press release

opening reception : November 3, 6-10pm

Pie in the Face - A group exhibition curated by Keith Sklar. Aidas Bareikis, sculpture. Matt Connors, photography. Sara Hunsucker, sculpture. Clint Jukkala, painting. Kristi Kent, painting. Eva Lee, video. Anthony Lepore, photography. Adrian Meraz, sculpture. Pawel Wojtasik, video. Ana Wolovick, painting.

“When it became obvious what a dumb and cruel and spiritually and financially and militarily ruinous mistake our war in Vietnam was, every artist worth a damn in this country, every serious writer, painter, stand-up comedian, musician, actor and actress, you name it, came out against the thing. We formed what might be described as a laser beam of protest, with everybody aimed in the same direction, focused and intense. This weapon proved to have the power of a banana-cream pie three feet in diameter when dropped from a stepladder five-feet high.” - Kurt Vonnegut (2003)

Pie in the Face takes Kurt Vonnegut’s voiced frustration and expands upon it to show our current societal sense of shared cultural anxiety. The exhibition, curated by Brooklyn-based painter Keith Sklar, is conceived of as kind of 4" x 5" blurry snapshot of art informed by living at this critical juncture; a time torn by forces both global and local, threatening and benign.

On view are works in a variety of media ranging from painting and photography to sculpture and video. These works, for example, include luminous tragicomic paintings, a wishing well filled with black muck, a video of naked mole rats, sensuous EEG images of emotional states, and a photograph of a wired ROTC cadet. Just like the sentiments coming forth from Vonnegut, the artists in Pie in the Face stir our emotions with works that are at once, funny, smart, deadpan, and frightening.

curator's statement

Vonnegut’s quote posits the challenge of creating work at this critical juncture; a time rendered by forces global and local; threatening and benign. All ten artists in the show would most likely reject any idea that they create dogmatically political work. These artists form a disparate grouping, each seeking different things, concentrating on different projects, and ending up with different goals. What brings these separate entities together is a shared anxiety and an engagement with the present along with a limited optimism for the future. Caught between knowing disbelief and the desire for possibility, the works of these artists locate themselves in a difficult and timely terrain. To survive these days, the disempowered must be keenly open and aware, they must know the lay of the land, and intuit its possibilities and limits; broadly, intimately. The artists in Pie in the Face reveal these overlapping recurrent themes, presenting a cross-section of tactics needed to face our world today: anxiety, humor, farce, life in the cities, the search for connection.

Clint Jukkala’s anxious, creepy, and brilliantly chromatic oil painting, Memento, reads like one of Josef Albers’ nightmares. Jukkala’s dashes of hypercolor are in constant flux, morphing abstract formalism into low resolution 80’s era video games and back again. Ana Wolovick also exploits the tropes of modernist history, mining them for their overstuffed cultural baggage. Ana Wolovick’s diptych painting, Tenets, emphatically connects the issues of the Sixties to today by overtly employing the iconic style of Warhol. In the work, we are presented with the metaphoric image of former head of the CIA, George Tenet’s knife-in-the-back alongside his medal of freedom in a juxtaposition as complex as it is disturbing. Kristi Kent’s large drawing, Ready to Wear, similarly takes on post-pop subject matter by conflating the joyously cheap imagery of low budget 1950’s sci-fi movies, trashcan robots and sputnik satellites, with the devastating moral authority of Goya’s Disasters of War. In Kent’s work, the future is always bound by the nostalgic. If Barney’s were ever to open a branch of its store at Abu Graib, this should be the Christmas window display.

And I know that ridicule may be a shield, but it is not a weapon. - Dorothy Parker.

Anthony Lepore’s work, at its core, concerns belief. His photography reveals a search for place, for home, for meaning; an Americana that is simultaneously hokey and transcendent. In one of Lepore’s works the bowling alley becomes virtual space while in the other, a tweaked, post-adolescent ROTC cadet stands beneath an apartment patio clothesline every bit as geometric and symbolic as Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. Together these two works provide a foundation of discomfort within suburban America.

Adrian Meraz also posits his work in relation to and as community. His work, Mump…Blank Blank Feral Stutter, calls to mind a quote from Marilyn Monroe who stated: “My work is the only ground I've ever had to stand on. I seem to have a whole superstructure with no foundation but I'm working on the foundation.” Meraz’ cardboard, string and wood sculpture depicts a faux Palladian mini mall-like architectonic area collapsing upon itself, lost, deluded, uninhabitable. Pawel Wojtasik’s video, Naked, also investigates the intersection between natural and human made environments. In Wojtasik’s work naked mole rats, abject, hairless and blind, crawl upon, over, and into each other within plastic tunnels searching for food, sex and space, echoing the disturbing reality that we are in a moment in time where the most appropriate metaphors need hardly be the most subtle.

"You're free. And freedom is beautiful. And, you know, it'll take time to restore chaos and order — order out of chaos. But we will."- George W. Bush. Matt Connors’ photographs of Beirut and Damascus, cities branded as locations of violence and terror, were shot on-site and then digitally re-imagined and seamlessly re-assembled in Brooklyn. They are improbably banal images of small, everyday, human moments, each fairly universal within the global urban fabric. No less convincing and rigorously constructed than a Poussin or Eakins painting, these works reveal a globalized condition where photographic truth is indistinguishable from manipulation, not unlike the twisted words so often spoken by our nation’s politicians.

“There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know.” - Donald Rumsfeld. Eva Lee’s video installation, Discrete Terrain: Windows on Five Emotions (shown here as a single channel study), offers a technological mediation between our inner and outer worlds; between the known and the unknown. Using the data from electroencephalograms (EEG), these readings come from twelve people experiencing five emotional states – anger, joy, fear, sadness, and disgust. Lee created 3D topographic animations from this information, resulting in a hauntingly seductive video. In this work we witness the deepest core of our identity, our emotions, surveyed, modeled, and exposed as a network of planar geometry.

Aidas Bareikis’ sculpture, I Have No Name, is a monument of whited-out horror vacuii celebrating the ongoing victory of failure. It evokes the primal middle finger raised as one lays barely cogniscent, undefeated in a ditch and echoing the words of Samuel Beckett as he writes: Where I am, I don't know, I'll never know, in the silence you don't know, you must go on, I can't go on, I'll go on. - The Unnamable

Lastly we have, Wishing Well, by Sara Hunsucker a plastic place where, along with your coins, desire and hope slowly sink denied into a literal well of glistening black goop. Resonant of the personal (body fat) and the political (oil), this work unites Charles Ray with Paul McCarthy and Haliburton with McDonald’s, leaving the spectator with a viscous blend of laughter and outrage.

Each of these artists in this exhibition reveals what its like to be really engaged; vulnerable, canny, willful, beautiful, ridiculous. Maybe in the 60’s those artists were Quixotic in their belief in the transformative power of their work. This time around, the best artists have become Sancho Panza. They begin by already knowing all too well how things turn out in the end. Stuck in the essential vantage point - right smack in the middle – these artists are making work that is helplessly insightful, poignantly determined, and courageously human, with the power of a perfectly aimed pie in the face.

Free speech means the right to shout ‘theater’ in a crowded fire. - Abbie Hoffman.

artists' bios

Aidas Bareikis is a sculptor based in Brooklyn. Emigrating from Vilnius, Lithuania Bareikis has show extensively nationally and internationally. Exhibitions include: Kunsthalle Wien (Austria), IBID Projects (London), Center For Contemporary Art (Berlin), P.S.1/MoMA and Leo Koenig (NY). Bareikis is represented by Leo Koenig Inc.

Matt Connors is a photographer based in Brooklyn, NY. He has exhibited in New York, Tokyo, Milan Stockholm and Madrid, and is currently an assistant Professor at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston.

Sara Hunsucker is a multidisciplinary artist based in San Diego and LA. Currently enrolled in the MFA program at University of California, San Diego, she has exhibited at Marcus Gallery in San Diego and in LA at 4F, Sixteen: One, 2102 and The Hatch.

Clint Jukkala is a painter based in New Haven, CT. His exhibitions include Envoy Gallery (NY), Decordova Museum (MA). He is an Assistant Professor at Yale University School of Art. Jukkala is represented by Envoy Gallery, NY.

Kristi Kent is a multidisciplinary artist based in Brooklyn. Her exhibitions include: Carl Berg Gallery and the Korean Cultural Center (LA), Santa Monica Museum of Art, and Kaus Australis and Art Affairs in the Netherlands.

Eva Lee is a video installation artist based in CT. Her exhibitions include: the Aldrich Contemporary Museum and Real Artways in Connecticut and the Bronx Museum of the Arts, Smack Mellon and P.S.122 galleries in New York.

Anthony Lepore is a photographer based in LA. His exhibitions include the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, (Kansas City, MO), the Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art (China), Marvelli Gallery (NY), and Bernard Toale Gallery (Boston). Lepore is represented by Marvelli Gallery.

Adrian Meraz is a sculptor based in Brooklyn. His exhibitions include: the Santa Monica Museum of Art, 4F Gallery (LA), and Artspace (New Haven, CT).

Pawel Wojtasik is a video installation artist based in Brooklyn. Emigrating from Poland, Wojtasik has shown extensively nationally and internally. His exhibitions include: the Reina Sofia Museum (Madrid), P.S.1/MoMA, Alona Kagan Gallery, and on PBS television (NY). Film festivals include Athens, Beijing, San Francisco, and Toronto. Wojtasik is represented by Alona Kagan Gallery.

only in german

Pie in the Face
Kurator: Keith Sklar

mit Aidas Bareikis, Matthew Connors, Sara Hunsucker, Clint Jukkala, Kristi Kent, Eva Lee, Anthony Lepore, Adrian Meraz, Pawel Wojtasik, Ana Wolovick