Marianne Boesky Gallery is pleased to present Snow, a solo exhibition of new works by Kon Trubkovich. This is the artist’s third solo project at the gallery. The exhibition will run from February 20 through March 22, 2014 at 509 West 24th Street.
Snow presents a meditation on the aesthetic of memory and the fluid nature of recollection. Concepts that have consistently informed the artist’s output, Trubkovich addresses them here through the engagement and juxtaposition of painting, drawing and film, a treatment that reveals the productive tension between these distinct approaches. It is precisely through this revelation that the artist ultimately evokes the unfixed, liminal nature of recollected states, and the particular poetry that arises out of their visual manifestation.
For this exhibition, the artist has produced three new paintings from his “Mama” series. This project consists of paintings of stills taken from a home video of the artist’s mother at a party on her last night in the USSR before emigrating to America in 1990. Screening this footage, the artist focuses on a discrete moment that he elongates and draws out, a single second that will eventually yield twenty-four distinct and nuanced paintings to coincide with the twenty-four frames in the chosen second of film. Trubkovich further distorts these images before rendering them by hand in oil on canvas. The resultant paintings are ambiguous: highly intimate and humanely collective, they are images of her, and abstracted compositions depicting the portal of a screen; they are evidence of her history, and by extension a description of the artist himself. Unable to fully capture her essence, these works succeed in capturing the essential act of memory; stuck in the static frame, Trubkovich’s subject is recalled from the past, where it will continue to exist imperfectly, both on film and in memory.
A similar effect is achieved by the “Lenny” drawings also on view. Here, the artist has taken a mug shot of the late comedian Lenny Bruce, disrupting and distorting the image beyond facile recognition. Like the “Mama” works, Trubkovich conceives of these as self-portraits of another sort. Indeed, their subject comes about through self-projection rather than perfect rendering; they lie between the anonymous and the personal, oscillating in the space that separates the two. As a tragicomic figure from a bygone era, Bruce’s shadowy presence produces a dull, fleeting sense of loss, as well.
These works’ quiet nostalgia is reflected in the artist’s recent “Snow” series, examples of which are included in this exhibition. Here, Trubkovich has translated footage of the sky into paintings and drawings of varying hues, adding an overlay of mark-making that suggests flakes of snow or the disruptive flecks characteristic of old film; the ineffable spatial atmosphere of these works is akin to the unspoken task of unrequited recollection implied by the “Mama” works.
The show’s overarching thematic threads are woven together in the film on view. Here, Trubkovich sifted through hours of footage of his family and their circle videotaped by a family friend, “sculpting” it into the final product, which features a score by Christopher Taylor and John Greswell of Menlo Park Music. This undulating ballad attempts to visually manifest the general recollection of the past, an anonymous past pieced together with the artist’s own history. Transferring the VHS footage into 35mm film, the artist worked with colorist Tom Poole to heighten the lyricism of the original footage, ultimately bringing it into the realm of painting. Trubkovich then further distorted the images by physically drawing on the film, producing a work that hovers between documentary evidence, imagined landscape, and manipulated artifice. With this gesture, the artist disrupts the persistence of vision, making the viewer aware of the illusion of time-based media, and thus, the inadequacy of memory, too; Trubkovich’s indexical marks on film become analogous to the flickering marks of the past on our personal and collective memory.
Kon Trubkovich was born in Moscow in 1979. His debut solo exhibition was at P.S.1. in 2006: No Country for Old Men, curated by Neville Wakefield. Since then he has shown internationally in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, London, Athens, Tel Aviv, Milan, Venice and Moscow. Kon Trubkovich lives and works in Brooklyn.