Antonio Colombo Arte Contemporanea is proud to present in Little Circus, the gallery space dedicated to special projects, Backhand, the new solo exhibition of the American artist Fred Stonehouse, curated by Michela D’Acquisto.
“Backhand” belongs to sports terminology, but in common language it also indicates a slap. It’s only fitting, then, that on the occasion of his second show in the gallery spaces Fred Stonehouse use the support of vintage ping-pong paddles found at a flea market as a narrative device to recall childhood memories, and, in particular, the memory of his father. In fact, the artist describes how the latter, often exasperated by his five children, had hung on a wall of the house, as a warning of impending corporal punishment, a wooden paddle on which he had drawn the face of a bulldog baring its teeth – or better, a rather comical rendering of the dog, so as to completely undermine his threats.
Stonehouse reflects on how objects, found by chance during one of the expeditions in search of the antique frames that characterize his paintings, have the power to bring to mind after fifty years an almost forgotten episode. Inspired by this bittersweet memory, the artist begins to imagine them with faces, letting himself be guided by the particular shape of each paddle. “Weirdly, they feel more like hand mirrors to me now than ping-pong paddles” he notes “It’s as if one gazes into a mirror and this odd creature gazes back”.
Backhand thus includes a body of works that float somewhere between the illusionistic two-dimensionality of painting and the three-dimensional physicality of sculpture. Fred Stonehouse, in skilfully combining folk art and pre-Renaissance primitivism into an unmistakable language, narrates once again how the anecdotes of his family have indelibly marked his entire artistic production.
On show works on vintage ping-pong paddles, on paper, and on panel.
Fred Stonehouse was born in 1960 in Milwaukee, in Wisconsin, where he lives and works. Holding a BFA in Painting from University Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, currently the artist teaches Drawing and Painting at University Of Wisconsin-Madison. His works are part of many private, such as Madonna’s, and public collections. To only name a few: Brooks Museum, Memphis (Tennessee); Madison Art Center, Madison; Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee; San Jose Art Museum, San Jose (California); Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma (Washington). In addition, Stonehouse is the winner of prestigious awards, including: Joan Mitchell Foundation Individual Artist Grant; National Endowment For The Arts, Arts Midwest Fellowship; Wisconsin Institute Of Visual Arts Lifetime Achievement Award. Among his main solo exhibitions: 2015, Fred Stonehouse: The Promise Of Distant Things, The Museum Of Wisconsin Art, West Bend; Ghosts Of Padua, Howard Scott Gallery, New York; Man, Myth, Monster & Devils And The Dead, Koplin Del Rio Gallery, Los Angeles; Family Lexicon, Antonio Colombo Arte Contemporanea, Milano; 2014, Fred Stonehouse: Banners, Cutouts And Drawings, University Of Ohio-Lima; 2013, The Deacon’s Seat, St. Ambrose College, Davenport (Iowa); 2012, Blood Relatives, Taylor Bercier Fine Art, New Orleans; 2011, Marsh Night, Koplin Del Rio Gallery, Los Angeles; 2010, Marshland, Howard Scott Gallery, New York.
Among his main group shows: 2015, Not Man The Less, But Nature More, Summerhall, Edinburgh; HEY! Act III, Halle St. Pierre, Paris; La Famosa Invasione Degli Artisti A Milano, Antonio Colombo Arte Contemporanea, Milano; 2014, Don’t Wake Daddy IX, Feinkunst Kruger, Hamburg; 2013, Vice And Virtue, Northern Illinois University Art Museum, DeKalb (Illinois); 2012, Between Truth And Fiction, Koplin Del Rio Gallery; 2011, Krampus, Curly Tale Fine Art, Chicago; 2010, BLAB!: A Retrospective, Society Of Illustrators, New York.