Gladstone 64 presents an exhibition of new works by Banks Violette.
The artist, known for conjoining the materials and forms of Minimal and Conceptual Art with signifiers of sub-cultural communities, presents a new sculpture and a body of works on paper. Violette’s first solo presentation in New York in nearly a decade demonstrates his continued exploration of the residues left by social rupture when venerated canonical imagery is sacrificed for the sake of the new.
For this exhibition, Violette presents a group of new drawings that examine the self-cannibalizing tendencies of contemporary America’s collective hunger to witness the rise and fall of public figures. Employing the iconography of scandals both public and private, the logo from Roseanne and a sympathetic portrait of Stormy Daniels index the fluctuating distance between the person and the persona. Seeing the exsanguination of identity and the subsequent devastation of authenticity as a metaphor for art’s impulse to replicate existing figures and forms, Violette addresses the losses inherent in all instances of facsimile. He asserts that the copy nonetheless carries the historical burden of the original and that all duplicates are permanently bound to their referents despite cultural amnesia. A graphically simple linear abstraction initially presents itself as an exercise in the syntax of Minimalism, yet gains additional emotional heft as a digital trace left on the artist’s computer by an assistant who subsequently committed suicide. Utilizing imagery that references the facility with which we reassign meaning, Violette channels the overwhelming desire for the loss of the real and the continual production of myth.
Further evincing the artist’s handling of “the copy” is a sculptural recreation of Peter Saville’s cover for New Order’s 1983 album, Power Corruption and Lies, itself a repurposing of Henri Fantin-Latour’s 1890 painting, Roses in a Basket. An appropriation of an appropriation, Violette’s iteration is composed of a basket cast via the lost-wax method and a living replica of the floral arrangement depicted in the still life. Rather than aiming for a three-dimensional transposition of a two-dimensional canvas, though, the artist instead revels in the ersatz quality of his replica, a gesture made explicit in the decision to include only white flowers. Thwarting the viewer’s desire to encounter the object as a manifestation of the painting’s original subject, Violette instead presents it to us as a post-mortem artifact, a signifier so bloated with oscillating connotation that it wilts under the weight of its own history.
Banks Violette was born in 1973 and lives and works in Ithaca, New York. He received his B.F.A. from the School of Visual Arts, New York and his M.F.A. from Columbia University, New York. His work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions, including those at Museum Dhont-Dhaenens in Deurle, Belgium; Kunsthalle Wien; the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas; Kunsthalle Bergen, Norway; and the Whitney Museum of American Art. He has also participated in group exhibitions at The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; the Royal Academy, London; MoMA P.S. 1, New York; the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam; among others.all images © the gallery and the artist(s)