artist / participant
ION BIRCH made his solo debut at the New York gallery Margrett in 2000. His work was then already noted as different, exciting and disturbing. His media is often simple, pencil-drawings or gouache on paper, but his language, through its palpable figurativeness becomes complex, strange and imaginative. Birch has further exhibited at Bronwyn Keenan in 2001 and recently at Bellwether Gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Birch has a degree in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design, where he graduated in 1994. He was relatively unknown until his recent exhibition. Birch might be categorized as part of the young art scene in Williamsburg, but once you study his expression it’s easier to find parallels with the old masters, Asian erotic art or 20th century outsider art than some hip contemporary scene. Critics and others have been disturbed or provoked by his pictures. It’s easy to dismiss them simply as “erotic art” one of the earliest forms of art which mankind has produced for thousands of years. Or you might say the artist is seeking an effect through his “obvious” will to provoke. But are we really shocked by some naked bodies and gargantuan penises? Most people would answer “no” and then perhaps we have to confess there’s more to it and go deeper in our analysis to do Birch justice. The facial expressions and the language of the body are at least as clear and obvious as the sexual references. There’s a lot of symbolism, (maybe everything should be interpreted as symbolic in Birch’s pictures?) medieval knights, policemen, and animals all cry out to say something. Birch’s pictures convey the feeling of man’s desperation, but also joy and curiosity. The ambiguity is great, as in life itself.
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