I’ve had between three and nine glasses of red wine and I’m sitting in a huge UES apartment watching then UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon chat up a group of enthusiastic older women. Over the piano, I can hear them murmuring in agreement as they clink their champagne flutes. Cocktail waiters circle around the living room, casting suspicious looks every so often at Joseph and me, and I’m starting to feel acutely uncomfortable. It has finally sunk in that I don’t know too many people involved in the Principality of Liechtenstein’s diplomatic dispatch and I’m probably far too drunk and certainly not nearly regal enough to be in their company. I don’t know how the hell I ended up here and I doubt Joseph used my real name at the door. As we stagger towards to the gilded entryway, I collapse into a potted plant and Joseph lights up a cigarette. He’s starting to spill his drink, and I’m worried he’s going to be rude to someone, the CEO of Bayer Pharmaceuticals for example, just to amuse himself—and suddenly we’re off in a cab, my head spinning, as we speed downtown.
True or not, scenes like these populate Joseph Geagan’s paintings. A parade of trainwrecks, both Upper and Lower East Side, commingle in a series of nightclubs, trashed East Broadway apartments, townhouses, and anonymous after-hours. It’s a fantasy of New York after all; one far removed from Juice Press, Equinox, “co-working spaces” and “influencers”. We’ve seen some aspect of this in the damning Verist realism of Beckmann and in Grosz’ caricatures, but here Geagan shows New York at its most schizophrenic modern junction, a hysterical moment where a goblin can run for president and once again turn power and crime into the same thing. It’s a nasty theater of the present that makes you stumble through a familiar place just like the tongue twister every waiter/actor has to perform in his or her first audition: “Unique New York, Unique New York”.
Text by Alexander Shulan
Joseph Geagan (b. 1989) holds a BA from Columbia University. Recent solo and two person exhibitions include Maiden Lane, Ellis King, Dublin (2017); Toast for Old Chum, Romeo Gallery, New York (2016); Kanacoka (with Jake Cruzen), Bed Stuy Love Affair, New York (2014); and La Casa del Casu Marzu (With Jessi Reaves), Shoot The Lobster, New York (2014). Recent group shows include James Fuentes, New York (2017); Tie His Hands Gently, Romeo Gallery, New York (2016); Skins, Ellis King, Dublin (2016); Under the Volcano, Lomex, New York (2016); and Baba O’Bowery, organised by Jared Madere, The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2015). Geagan lives and works in New York. This is his first solo show with James Fuentes.