Thu 12 Jan 2023 to Sat 25 Feb 2023
140 Grand Street, NY 10013 Back
David Adamo, Alvin Baltrop, Elisabetta Benassi, Arthur Jafa, Roy Lichtenstein, Adam McEwen, Catherine Murphy, Bruce Nauman Peter Freeman, Inc. presents Back, a selection of works from an alternative perspective, pushing into view the usually unseen, the hidden, or things thought unimportant. In this exhibition, the works offer opportunities to rethink aesthetic, formal, social, or political assumptions from new positions.
Spanning more than 50 years, from Pop art to the present, each work brings the back to the forefront, as in Roy Lichtenstein’s self-referential 1968 Stretcher Frame with Vertical Bar, a trompe l’oeil depiction of the back of the same painting. Or Bruce Nauman’s iconic Henry Moore Bound to Fail (1967/1970), cast from his own physically bound torso, which also looks back to recent art history with ironic intent.
Elisabetta Benassi’s new series prints the back sides of historic lithographic stones used by other artists. Her delicate and precise watercolors depict the back sides of archival press photos from major historical and artistic turning points, focusing on the annotated caption descriptions of the actual images which often remain out of sight. An undated 1970s photograph by Alvin Baltrop of the back of a man’s head leaves identity and the relationship to both photographer and viewer ambiguous. Baltrop’s images were often taken at the West Side Piers in Manhattan, a longtime clandestine cruising site, and routinely capture people looking elsewhere or engaged with others in a manner that draws the viewer’s attention beyond the frame of the image. In a similar gesture, Catherine Murphy paints her name written backwards on the inside of a steamed window, a message offered to someone outside the house — outside the painting.
Recent sculptural works include Adam McEwen’s CLEAN ME (2018), a pared down linear relief that draws the image of the back of a truck, and David Adamo’s untitled 2014 bronze sculpture of a stretched canvas casually leaning face to the wall — echoing the Lichtenstein nearby. Arthur Jafa’s Ex-Slave Gordon (2017), is a wall relief based on a historic photograph showing the severely scarred back of the former slave. The original photograph was circulated widely by the abolitionist movement as visual proof of slavery’s brutality. Jafa’s sculpture pushes front and center the way this history continues to resonate today despite the historical distance. The histories and references of the works in Back vary in intent, and yet form a connected circle highlighting the importance to look behind, to remember what is often out of view.