For the second group exhibition at Metro Pictures' new Chelsea location, Jim Shaw, Gary Simmons and Tony Oursler have individual shows. The exhibition opens on Saturday May 3 and continues through June 7.
Jim Shaw's exhibition focuses exclusively upon his pencil drawings spanning from his early career through to the present. "My Mirage" (1985-91), a series of small scale works (exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1991) charts the development of the artist's alter-ego, "Billy," an "everykid," during his adolescence in the 1960s. Borrowing liberally from the popular culture of the period, Shaw presents a delirious visual, mental and moral insight into the protagonist's nascent sexual yearnings and delinquent experiences of hard and soft drugs, and rock 'n' roll.
Since 1987 Shaw has documented his wildly outlandish dreams through a variety of media. "The Sleep of Reason" comic-strip style pencil sketches are manifested with Shaw's quirky paranoia and wickedly perverse sensibilities, offering an alternative fantasy of the artist's collective unconscious. Accompanied by written narratives describing each dream with total recall, the images are a media mix of science fiction and vernacular culture, referring often to celebrities, art dealers and artists. A dense volume of "dream drawings," the source material for "The Sleep of Reason" series, was published as Dreams (Smart Arse Press, 1995).
For his second exhibition of chalkboard murals at Metro Pictures, Gary Simmons utilizes his trademark erasure technique to execute a Wildcats football score board. Simmons' working process involves painting the gallery walls with black, slate-like paint, dusted with chalk. Projected onto this Cinema Scope-sized surface, Simmons' drawings are then traced with chalk and manipulated by sweeping gestures and staccato swipes of his hands. In smudging and rubbing the clarity of the outlines, white tongues of chalk make evident how strenuously Simmons has marked on the wall the energy of his entire body. A haunting, unstable eeriness permeates as the towering apparition momentarily materializes before ones eyes, yet simultaneously threatens to disappear at any moment, echoing the melancholy sentiment of the hovering erasure murals mounted at the Lannan Foundation, Los Angeles, in 1995.
Simmons' work was included in the 1993 Whitney Biennial and for a special project for the opening of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago in 1996. His work is currently featured in the Institute of Contemporary Art's "Gothic" exhibition.
Grandiose scale is employed by Tony Oursler in his most recent work, Red Devil, 1997. A roving camera captures extreme macro shots of hybridized roses which are projected upon the gallery wall, distorting their height to approximately 5 feet each. Underneath each cross-breed is a plaque defining their name. In front of the image, an alienated pseudo-figure animated by a miniature video projector and accompanying audio inadvertently mourns society's constant drive towards order. Imbuing the projection with the tension of a disquieting context, the figure laments the hopelessness and uncertainty one confronts in attempting to define their identity in a society that is manipulated further toward a homogeneous state of complacency, devoid of spontaneity.
The rise of Multiple Personality disorder (MPD) and its connection to the media has influenced much of Oursler's work. The unconscious defense mechanisms victims develop to disassociate dramatic trauma memories from their main stream-of-consciousness are isolated and recounted by Oursler's characters. Analogies to the media-viewer relationship are personified by the Multiple switches from one personality to another, each monologue manifesting clear symptoms of mental distress, both paranoid and delusional.
Oursler's work was included in the 1997 Whitney Biennial, and his collaborative efforts with Mike Kelley, a fellow graduate of the California Institute for the Arts, will be incorporated in Documenta, Kassel this Summer, in which they will revisit their art school rock group activity. His work is included in internationally prominent collections including the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney in New York, and the Tate Gallery, London.