NewYork based FACTION Art Projects has announced an intimate three-person show, Others. Participating artists include Los Angeles based Mark Dutcher and Aaron Smith and UK based Andrew Mania.
The exhibition presents complex masculine identities that challenge historical depictions of strong, muscled men of stature.The works in this show portray a masculinity that is vulnerable, doubtful, idealized or pretty stimulating discussion around modern perspectives of masculinity. British Artist Grayson Perry in his commentary on the Descent of Man proposes rights for men:“Men’s rights, the right to be vulnerable.The right to be weak.The right to be wrong.The right to be intuitive.The right not to know.The right to be uncertain. The right to be flexible.The right not to be ashamed of any of these”.
These three artists portray alternative masculine identities using differing styles. Unexpected visual elements of one artists’ work morph into the others. Mark Dutcher’s use of the grid in his paintings resembles the lattice backdrops in Andrew Mania’s portraits.The postures of Aaron Smith’s older subjects reflect those of the young men in Mania’s.
Joy, optimism, playful experimentation and determination are influential factors in Dutcher’s works. Colored glitter, silver and gold leaf are applied to his paintings with traditional materials like oil and acrylic paint. A former punk musician, Dutcher’s practice reflects the rule breaking and DIY culture of Punk’s legacy. Dutcher’s process is evident in his work, such as the cut-out segments of canvas glued onto another or the roughly gilded sculptural works with silver and gold leaf flaking off his geometric constructions.
Film and literature influence Dutcher’s paintings.The Window and Prisoner series is a symbolic representation of the two prisoners in adjacent cells from Jean Genet’s film Un Chant d’Amour.The grid in these paintings allude to barred windows and abstracted curved elements are suggestive of the two side profiles of both men.
In the large Querelle paintings sweeping brushstrokes of black, white and grey are accompanied by small dabs of purple, green, yellow situated on the boundaries.Tighter brush strokes in the middle of the canvas reveal solitary figures.They appear troubled or contorted like the characters in Jean Genet’s novel Querelle of Brest.
Smith’s subjects are contemporary men, depicted alone and in pairs with poses that reference those of the male figures from Greek, Roman and Etruscan history.These powerful, bearded, masculine figures have long been associated with a masculine identity. Kouros, Herma and Sarcophagus of the Spouses, are mimicked by Smith’s modern men.The beard is used often to reflect its associations with masculinity. Smith is a self- confessed beard groomer.
Smith applies thick oils in high value pinks, reds, and blues to paint his figures which sit against monotone backgrounds of more muted colors.The subjects look important, they spring forward and are the only focus in his compositions.They mimic men of stature.
Andrew Mania is known for being the creator of the shirt depicting a portrait ofTimothée Chalamet worn by James Ivory at the Oscars earlier this year. Mania’s color pencil drawings of young men in this show are applied onto thin veneers of wood. Precise lines are used to define the head, eyes and hair; the clothing and backdrops to his subjects are constructed with solid blocks of color or scribbles reminiscent of textile patterns. In larger works Mania’s extends color onto the frame, large expanses of color are interrupted by a pair staring eyes.
Mania’s portraits are often presented with abstracted elements, light bulbs, painted canvases, fabrics and photographs from Mania’s collection. Some works are shown in vintage frames that contrast with the youthfulness of the muses in the artist’s portraits.
There is stylized disco in Mania’s portraits reminiscent of 80’s album covers and poster boys of the New Romantics.Young men stare at the viewer with piercing twinkling blue eyes and rosy red lips, dressed in the latest fashionable attire. Mania often leaves bare veneers exposed in his compositions and where drawn on in color pencil the grain adds a textural quality.