Friday, June 8, 2012

Justin West, End of an Error

Sara Nightingale Gallery is pleased to present End of an Error, a solo exhibition by rising Harlem artist Justin West organized by Georgette Grier-Key.

The exhibition's title is a spin off of Damien Hirst's 2010 exhibition at Gagosian, End of an Era, which included a wall of paintings of diamonds that sold for hefty prices despite the hovering economic crisis. The pièce de résistance was Hirst's 2009 sculpture of the same name, a severed bull's head with golden horns suspended in formaldehyde and encased in a golden vitrine. While the Golden Calf refers to the worshipping of a false idol, Hirst's bull "demystified the biblical tale and, by extension, debunked his own myth-making," according to the press release.

The false idol is an essential motivator for West, who rejects the recent art world trend of hyped, overproduced, assembly line art which has dominated the market in the past several years. Despite critiques such as Hirst's on the "bling" aspect of the art world, and this year's Whitney Biennial's rejection of it, artists with factories and assistants - Wei Wei, Wiley, Koons, and Hirst himself - continue to thrive within the system. Working in solitude in his Harlem studio, West relishes the intimacy of stretching his own canvasses, mixing his own paints, and the extremely personal experience of laying paint on canvas. Yet he does not work in a vacuum. Much of his subject matter refers to the work of successful contemporary artists of today, even while he is critical of their processes.

West writes of "Check Mate", the image attached, "I am aiming to communicate the fall of a crippled but inflated industry, but also the rise of something pure, strong, and beautiful. The wolf represents beauty and the hand that combats the wrong, while the robot symbolizes the machine that drives mankind downward, the rapid advance of technology, which is increasingly becoming an invisible bully. Computers are replacing people, therefore people don't have jobs. Superman being defaced in my works represents the country and its struggle right now."

Fusing pop imagery with old master styling, West employs animated characters such as Lambchop and Superman. Not only are they nostalgic pop characters, for West
they also represent the economy, patriotism, and the underdog.

This is West's debut solo exhibition.

End of an Error will run from May 26 - June 26. For more information and images contact Sara Nightingale at
Image: Justin West, Check Mate, acrylic on canvas, 60" x 70", 2012

Sara Nightingale Gallery
visit/ ship: 688 Montauk Highway
Water Mill, NY 11976
mail: PO Box 2646 
Sag harbor, NY 11963