Tuesday, June 02, 2015

June 3 Wants

Katie Batten, Jonathan Casella and Sarah Mikenis present Everything We Ever Wanted, bright paintings. The announcement wins the copy writing award for the month.

Appropriation’s rapid takeover of the 80s art market, as exemplified in Richard Prince’s unapologetic rephotographing of advertisements, marked a cultural shift from the previous decade’s conscientious ethos into an economics of greed. While such overt decadence eventually waned in the face of grim financial realities, consumerism’s hold on the arts remains afloat, buoyed by the often contrarian demands of a new digital generation. For Katie Batten, Jonathan Casella, and Sarah Mikenis—the three young artists on view in Nationale’s group painting exhibition Everything We Ever Wanted—this friction between artifice and authenticity transpires into explosions of color and pattern appropriated not from magazine pages, but the Internet’s undulating stream of imagery.

The motivating tension within these works likewise parallels a uniquely millennial belief in the fallacy of potential. Nicknamed the “Me Generation,” today’s young adults harbor impossible personal expectations continuously stoked by daily reminders of their contemporaries “success” via social networks like Facebook and Instagram. Life viewed within this construct of carefully edited online personas confuses happiness with affluence, relaxation with indulgence. Batten, Casella, and Mikenis, while also rebelling against the high formalism of their chosen medium, utilize painting and its art historical context as a means of expressing this generational struggle. Abstraction, kitsch, and the still life find rejuvenation through extravagant textures, aggressive palettes, and conspicuous accumulations that question our narcissistic digital impulses. Batten’s canvases, for instance, playfully layer homages to the flat aesthetic of Manet and Matisse with materialistic objects like trendy mason jars, iPhones, and Artforum magazines. Casella, meanwhile, utilizes a similar neon color palette for his dizzying, collaged compositions, creating almost virtual spaces wherein the two- and three-dimensional battle for visual dominance. This interest in hyperrealism also carries into Mikenis’ heterogeneous constructions. Sourcing patterns from the image-collecting website, Pinterest, she fashions simultaneously figurative and abstract visions that, while seductive in their immediate materialism, remain unattainable in their irrationality. Dizzying in their excess, Batten, Casella, and Mikenis represent a contemporary aesthetic impulse that is guided by the moment, as opposed to the monumental.

As for Prince, I think he is weak. But the reverse appropriation by the Suicide Girls of his appropriation of their alt-model Instagram feed is golden.

At Nationale www.nationale.us 3360 SE Division Map 6PM-8 Free