UNDER GLASS—a group show of new work at Half Gallery to be viewed from the street—is closing this weekend.
Participating artists include Ginny Casey, Ethan Cook, Daniel Heidkamp, Andrea JoyceHeimer, EwaJuszkiewicz, Michael Kagan, Tanya Merrill, Anna Park, Richard Prince, UmarRashid, Rene Ricard, Tom Sachs, Peter Schyuff, Pauline Shaw, and Chloe Wise.
Paintings are everywhere on Instagram. They circulate freely outside the control of the market, though they endure the censorship of social networks. Instagram is the universal exhibition of today – the Painting Salon of the 2020s. This is where I see more new paintings than I see in the galleries. This is where I discover more new artists and insensibly follow them, without even thinking, and then get off so easily.
Now, the idea is to restore and translate something of my digital experience on Instagram in an art gallery format. It’s a different kind of exhibition experience. But I ask myself, is the gallery transference interesting? Will a group show of such works hold up? Can we exhibit artists without knowing who they are? Or without first seeing their work in the flesh? What can I even say about this recent mutation of taste in narrative, pictorial, eclecticism…a sense of taste that, for me, includes sexual, fetishistic and maybe neo-surrealistic tendencies?
A theoretical question also arises: What’s painting even doing on Instagram?
First, let me say that a painting on Instagram is just an image. It’s a simulacrum, an image of an image, even a non-image or anti-image. A painting does not reproduce reality, nor does it duplicate it, and the image of a painting does not reproduce or duplicate a painting’s physical reality. A painting is a world apart. A world of shadows and lights. A mystery of surface and depth. An enigmatic mixture of colored matter and sensation. A painting stands in opposition to the digital experience of images that can be consumed en masse. Yet the image of a painting on a phone screen slows down my typically speedy, one-after-another consumption of images. The image of a painting often intrigues and even surprises me. Some linger in my memory, and a few more works by the same artist can deepen what began as a fragile and vague emotion. Unlike endlessly scrolled images, the digital image of a painting makes me think. It can even block the flow of thousands of images even as it too is carried off in the digital current. It stays because another kind of desire is played through it.
The images that cross in front of us, that absorb and consume us, embody a new form of global forgetfulness and contemporary amnesia. In the end, it’s a sadomasochistic suffering that we inflict on ourselves in war with images. Love may reside in the social network on the side of paintings. A single painting, in the midst of the seemingly intimate torment, is like a new beginning: to paint is to love again.
My desire to make an exhibition of Instagram paintings begins with what Instagram does to paintings. Instagramreturns to a painting what belongs to it. This is neither its decorative value, market value nor spiritual value, but rather its symbolic exchange of value. Isn’t that basically what Instagram tries to actualize or make us dream about: reinventing symbolic exchange? In the social and digital arena, where images of the world can defeat the world, paintings actualize a real connection to and between us. — Olivier Zahm
Join Zahm this weekend for the opening party of TO PAINT IS TO LOVE AGAIN, the show he’s curated for Nino Mier.
Éditions Lutanie and Printed Matter will launch the republication of RENE RICARD 1979-1980, the poet’s first book, with readings by EileenMyles, Rijard Bergeron, Raymond Foye, Shiv Kotecha, and Matt Longabucco.
“Today, it is in part for the way Ricard’s poems have indelibly left their mark on the history, people, and literary and art worlds of New York and beyond that Rene’s work should be re-read. They continue to compellingly approach today’s reader in their immediacy, their determination to say all without compromise or reserve, in the risks they take in exposing the vulnerable, precarious, but also licentious self.” — Rachel Valinsky, from the introduction to the book, a bi-lingual English-French edition that reproduces the original Tiffany catalogue cover design.
RENE RICARD 1979-1980 LAUNCH, Friday, June 8, at 6 pm.
PRINTED MATTER, 231 Eleventh Avenue (at 26th Street), New York City.