Quayola. Fragments

25 Feb — 9 Apr 2017 at bitforms gallery in New York, United States

23 FEBRUARY 2017
Quayola, Laocoön Fragment, 2016. Courtesy of bitforms gallery
Quayola, Laocoön Fragment, 2016. Courtesy of bitforms gallery

Bitforms gallery is very pleased to continue its fifteen-year anniversary season with "Fragments," Quayola's second solo show with the gallery.

Born in Rome, Quayola's practice is deeply affected by the grandeur and decay of ancient sculptures and Renaissance masterpieces that he encountered at an early age. Architectural façades, objects, and artworks that were once new chip, fade, crack, and break over the centuries. While the perception and reception of distressed frescoes or fractured sculptures is fluid, the work itself remains, containing a multitude of temporal narratives. Quayola translates this experience into his sculptures and works on paper and aluminum, which he presents as “simulated archaeological artifacts.”

Laocoön "Fragments" is a series of sculptures based on the Hellenistic sculpture "Laocoön and His Sons." A paramount example of the Pergamene Baroque style, the work was endlessly copied—beginning in Roman times and through the nineteenth century—both as an artistic training device and due to its sheer popularity.

Quayola inserts himself into this tradition with a digitally-driven approach. The artist's software imagines and renders alternative breakages, fragmenting the work into two distinctive styles: representationally accurate sections and geometric abstractions coalesce into new forms. Made with iron-filled resin and chemically treated to create an accelerated patina effect, the geometric sections are further treated to halt the oxidation process, while the representational forms continue to gradually transform. The visual contrast between the past and present thus becomes more pronounced with the passage of time.

For all of the works in the exhibition, Quayola's process begins in the annals of Western art. He locates historical themes that often became technological apparatuses in and of themselves, like Judith and Holofernes. For several hundreds of years, this was the de rigueur subject matter to test new painting techniques. "Iconographies (Judith and Holofernes)" synthesizes and transforms sixty paintings on this theme.

Compositional conventions and color schemes are analyzed through computer-vision algorithms, generating what the artist describes as "new preparatory drawings.” Eight works from the series are presented in "Fragments," based on paintings by Sandro Botticelli, Lavinia Fontana, Artemisia Gentilesch, Orazio Gentileschi, Mattia Preti, Luca da Reggio, Guido Reni, and Lionello Spada.