Jack Shainman Gallery presents THAT’S NOT IT, an exhibition of drawings by Geoffrey Chadsey.
In his ongoing series of painterly, drawn portraits, Chadsey continues a decade-long exploration of fantasized subjects that hover in the sfumato between the masculine and the effeminate: they are made-up “men” composed of selves presented for an unseen, image-consuming digital audience. If Giorgio Agamben describes persona as the mask through which we maintain social status, Chadsey’s morphed persons have visages that blur and flicker, as if yet to settle into a coherent identity. The pentimenti evidenced in Chadsey’s transparent process of drawing multiplies the poses on top of each other, as if they are in constant state of shedding, becoming. These men are caught up in enacting the various aspirations of the hyper-American notion of being all you can be. They are anxious, stuck perhaps in a moment of white male fragility: the center is not holding, the multiple drop-down-menu archetypes they enact clashing for attention. But they are excited, too; in the midst of a peacock display.
With additional references ranging from the obscure (nude portraits from Paris’ Salpetrière hospital) to the mundane (a close look reveals the Quaker Oats mascot), Chadsey’s cyborg characters are alluringly bizarre. His hybrid figures succeed in making the strange familiar and the familiar strange, blurring the line between viewer and subject, between personal history and the artist’s internet search history. The tree-ring pencil-lined skin of Chadsey’s men, an allusion both to Gustave Doré’s copperplate etchings of Dante’s Inferno and to presidential portraits on US currency, lead our eyes to travel along the subjects’ surfaces, rendering the body, itself, as an evolving physical narrative. Presented in glassless frames, the drawings are delicate, vulnerable even. Overwhelmingly articulated in life-size scale, the figures insist on being beheld.
Geoffrey Chadsey, born in Philadelphia, currently lives and works in Brooklyn. He earned his BA in Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University and his MFA from the California College of the Arts. He has exhibited his work in solo and group exhibitions at numerous institutions, most recently at the Boston University Art Gallery, as well as the Contemporary Art Museum, Honolulu; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; San Jose Museum of Art; the San Diego Museum of Art; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; and the Frye Art Museum, Seattle, WA. He is a 2011 New York Foundation for the Arts John Burton Harter Charitable Trust Fellow, and has been the recipient of the Artadia Art Council Jury Award and the Fine Arts Work Center Fellowship.