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Andrea Rosen Gallery: Amnesia
Gallery 2 - José Lerma
- 11 Dec 2010 to 22 Jan 2011

Current Exhibition

11 Dec 2010 to 22 Jan 2011

Andrea Rosen Gallery
525 West 24 Street
NY 10011
New York, NY
New York
North America
p: 212 627 6000
f: 212 627 5450

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Artists in this exhibition: FELIX GONZALEZ-TORRES, ON KAWARA, José Lerma

FELIX GONZALEZ-TORRES, ON KAWARA, and a FILM AND VIDEO PROGRAM curated by Rebecca Cleman and Josh Kline of Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI)

December 11, 2010 - January 22, 2011
Opening Reception: Saturday, December 11, 2010 - 6-8PM

Gallery 2

José Lerma
I am sorry I am Perry

December 11, 2010 - January 22, 2011
Opening Reception: Saturday, December 11, 2010 - 6-8PM

For press information please contact Jessica Eckert, or Renee Reyes,

and a FILM AND VIDEO PROGRAM curated by
Rebecca Cleman and Josh Kline of Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI)
December 11, 2010 – January 22, 2011

“I used to come home very late at night and watch TV to forget the daily specials before I’d work on any art. I’d scan the channels. There’s really not much to see. Everything boiled down to the same low level of meaninglessness. Everything was a fragment of a total spectacle: the most horrific news next to the most glamorous gold ring next to the most glamorous celebrity next to cooking oil. News, events, fiction, data, scandals, starving children, etc., are all collapsed into a level of historical inaction—a dark landscape, sterile, meaninglessness . . .”
-Felix Gonzalez-Torres, interview with Tim Rollins, 1993

Amnesia is a condition marked by gaps, lacunae in the fabric of memory, missing pieces from a continuum. As a medical condition, amnesia afflicts individuals who cannot recall specific events and times. As a metaphorical condition, amnesia can afflict countries and societies with a collective forgetfulness. History is not the continuous, linear narrative of the past, but rather, a continually shifting collection of fragments held together by those pieces we prioritize and those we choose to forget, a kind of dark matter filling the space between what is desired or allowed to be visible at any given moment. These gaps, however, do not represent loss, but rather discontinuity.

“I die once so I have only one life. Literally speaking, continuity means nothing and discontinuity means existence.”
-On Kawara in conversation with Lucy Lippard, 1974.

Andrea Rosen Gallery is truly excited to present an exhibition of three remarkable projects, Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ “Untitled” (It’s Just a Matter of Time), 1992; a singular masterpiece, a set of 12 On Kawara date paintings from his Today series comprised of one canvas from each month of a single year, and an extensive and complex film and video program expressing a multivalent reading of amnesia curated by Rebecca Cleman and Josh Kline of Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI).

While many artist’s work can be said to describe the phenomenon of social amnesia, the three components of this exhibition were selected because they all seem to embody a deceptive sense of continuity—the billboards always have the same text, Kawara’s canvases give the appearance of always looking identical, and film and video have a sense of being a stagnant record forever embedded in the medium—but at their root and as the projects are used in this exhibition, they all convey an overt sense of inherent discontinuity providing us an opportunity to experience the works intellectually and viscerally. The video and film program curated by Rebecca Cleman and Josh Kline serves as a crucial link in the exhibition and foregrounds the underlying interest in media in both Gonzalez-Torres and Kawara’s practice. Inherent to the physical properties of film and video is a material degradation and far from serving as an accurate record or recording, all videos and film, no matter how documentary, are ultimately subjective. Cleman and Kline have created a multifaceted program exploring several different themes and types of amnesia, with the content dynamically changing throughout the course of the exhibition. When one stands in front of the nine monitors, they become a manifestation of the collapsed, simultaneous experience Gonzalez- Torres describes in his quote about television.

Both Kawara and Gonzalez-Torres’ work is initially deceptive in seeming to be mostly about the passage of time and our existential relationship to it, however, both slowly reveal themselves to be equally if not more so about our shared historical condition of amnesia and how place alters content. First exhibited at the Kunstverein Hamburg in the 1992 exhibition Gegendarstellung: Ethics and Aesthetics in the Age of AIDS, “Untitled” (It’s Just a Matter of Time) features the text of the work’s parenthetical title in the original German in white, Gothic font set against a black background. That the billboards continue to persist and be exhibited in new contexts and places makes the purposefully contradictory and multivalent meaning of the text more powerful. Kawara’s works similarly become more and more expansive as time goes on. Each canvas represents the intense labor of a full day of painting and mark not only a moment in time and place, but become linked both backwards and forwards to Kawara’s ever expanding, unparalleled lifelong project. It is surprising when seeing all twelve Kawara canvases together, and against one’s immediate assumption, one sees how the formatting of the painted dates subtly shifts based on the local standard where the works were produced. For this exhibition we have chosen to exhibit the handmade boxes lined with a newspaper clipping from the day the work was produced. Seen from a distance, it is possible to apprehend all of the canvases at once, but it is only possible to view the boxes up close, mimicking the public address of the canvases and the seemingly private nature of the boxes. As if capturing a random frame in one of the television screens, the newspaper clippings are merely one part representing a whole. There is no formula for what is selected from the newspaper and Kawara’s particular framing of that day’s events point not only to what is being displayed, but the magnitude of what is unknown and forgotten.

“. . . they’re betting on amnesia. That’s what they’re counting on. They’re counting on that you all forgot.”
-Barack Obama, Democratic National Committee event, August 2, 2010

If we are prone to amnesia, we can also be saved by it. Without forgetting, there is no remembering and without gaps, there is no need to construct histories to fill them. Gonzalez-Torres and Kawara both made works that affirmed their own existence and each artist’s deep sense of responsibility to knowing his society make the seemingly mundane act of living miraculous and consequential. A billboard appears, a day is lived and remembered, a video is recorded and broadcast. It’s only a matter of time. I am still alive.

José Lerma
I am sorry I am Perry

December 11, 2010 – January 22, 2011

On the Title:
The title is the punch line of a joke I heard as a child in Puerto Rico in which an English-speaking fox and a Spanish-speaking dog bump into each other and exchange apologies. Their conversation embodies the resulting layers of meanings that stem from the inadequacies of translation.

My practice consists of finding ways within painting to collapse the historical and the personal. In this exhibition, I intend to create a narrative from a combination of 3 separate ideas that I have been working with over the past few years: the bankers, the reflective curtain, and the keyboards. What I hope emerges is a kind of "fourth reading", one that cannot be immediately grasped or understood, but one that stays with you, and largely because of its inability to be immediately comprehended.

On the Bankers:
While I was still a law student, on my first visit to the Met, I encountered the bust of the French banker Samuel Bernard by Guillaume Coustou. Bernard had been one of richest men during the reign of Louis XIV. I shot a full roll of images of this work. I still have no idea why I did it; at the time I had no intention of making art or even being an artist. Many years later, I began to paint a series of abstract portraits, which loosely referenced those photographs. As with Bernard, I made paintings of two other financiers. One was Jacob Fugger, banker to the Hapsburgs and creator of the first public housing project. The third was John Law, a Scottish-born banker and economist who was responsible for creating one of the first bubbles and nearly bankrupting the French economy. I picked these men rather than more obvious choices (Rothschilds, Schiffs or Salomon Chase), because these figures were for me, at most, a point of departure. They're faceless, lack likeness, and are an ideal space for formal invention.

On the Reflective Curtain:
This is the fourth and largest version of the reflective curtain I have made so far. The fabric is made by 3M, and it is used for night safety. The curtain is a classic motif for many painters (Richter's gray curtains for example) due to the story of Parrhasius. I was interested in reversing its function (light suppression) to, if not light emission, a hyper-reflection. This idea of being aligned with light picks up on a parallel narrative to a strand of positivist ideas in art and painting in particular. A previous version referenced an abstract motif in Frank Stellas "de la Nada Vida a la Nada Muerte" creating only one pinstripe, by means of two gray colored bands, the most minimal allusion I could make to contemporary banking attire. This one I left untouched, and only reversed its title. The curtains can go from dull, to sublime, to cheap depending on one's physical relation to it…that is my favorite quality about them.

On the Keyboards:
In 2003 in Chicago I did a sculpture which I titled "The Saddest Chord in the World." The piece was very simple. It consisted of a Yamaha DX7 keyboard, which leaned vertically against the wall and had the D, F and A keys held down by means of masking tape, creating a D minor chord. Less a Cagean tinkering than a riff on Keith Emerson knives, or Dennis Oppenheim organ pieces, the work results in a New Age-like drone, which slows down the read. Here I placed the synths the way painters place wood blocks under unfinished paintings. Unlike in "The Saddest Chord" there is a dissonance in this work that is dictated by the large physical supports pressing any key while being set up daily. In this work the paintings make the music, which is set off against the bureaucratic grays, the fluorescent pink highlighters, the Bic pen blue doodles and the kind of daydreaming that occurs in the workplace.
-José Lerma

Andrea Rosen Gallery is thrilled to present José Lerma's third solo exhibition at the gallery. Lerma, born in Spain and raised in Puerto Rico, studied political science at Tulane and law at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, before switching his major to art and earning his MFA. He was granted a year-long residency in Puerto Rico, attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and the Core Program (affiliated with the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, TX). Since his previous exhibition here in 2006 Lerma has exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Milwaukee Art Museum, El Museo del Barrio, New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit, and the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture to name a few; as well as showing internationally with recent solo gallery exhibitions in Seoul, Berlin and Madrid. José Lerma lives and works in New York and Chicago, where he is on faculty at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

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