Let Us Now Praise Famous Men
May 20 – July 3, 2015 | 11 Rivington St & 195 Chrystie St, NY
Eleven Rivington is pleased to present an exhibition of new paintings by American artist Lisa Ruyter, on view at both gallery locations from May 20 through July 3, 2015. Titled Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, the exhibition marks Lisa Ruyter’s 32nd career solo exhibition, and the artist’s third show using photographs from the Library of Congress’ FSA / OWI archive as source material. The Farm Security Administration – Office of War Information Collection includes more than 164,000 black and white and color negatives created from 1935 to 1944 by a small but highly influential photography program.
“These images, produced through government agency, quite miraculously transcend propaganda, and have become the material of an American identity. It is a defining and generative archive, ever more so as it is digitized, repeated and further disseminated. There are lessons to be found in this archive containing an army of readily reanimated ghosts. These ghosts are sacred spirits to some, untouchable for what they represent. To ‘appropriate’ therefore becomes another assault on their memory, as if any previous incarnation had ever been free of appropriation. These photographs are of Americans, and they represent those who go unnoticed, unrecognized and, um, unrepresented. They are us, or at least some idea that we have of ourselves, they belong to us because of the way that they came into our world, as photographs, not as people. It is a record of what was already being lost to Americans even as it was being constructed, an American dream of self-determination, independence and freedom.” (Lisa Ruyter)
Lisa Ruyter began showing in New York in 1993, as part of a generation that was the subject of the New Museum’s ‘NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set Trash and No Star.’ Like many of the artists in that show, Ruyter’s concerns involve identity and pathologic constructions that cross biological and social boundaries. This work emerged from an education that had pop art and minimalism functioning like shopping mall anchor stores, in relationship to which Ruyter formed a special interest in navigating the glut of images, storytelling, invisible architectures, dissolving skins and representation, especially self-representation.
Lisa Ruyter’s early work is drawing-driven, comprised from an archive of found images forced into relationship via traced outlines, a web-like structure that ultimately could be seen as representing an architectural form, such as that of the internet. Such architecture affects movement and gestures but does not have a clear, visible, physical manifestation or author. The work evolved into a colorful and immediately recognizable treatment of a range of subject matters via photographic images taken by the artist. Lisa Ruyter has returned to the archive as subject matter, but in a major conceptual shift, has abandoned the use of self-made photographic source material in favor of a self-indexed version of the FSA / OWI photo collection. Two groups of these works will be presented at Eleven Rivington: figurative works featuring women with patterned clothing, and works drawn from source photographs of salvage collection sites.
Both series emphasize the function of the lines that have been present in the work since the early 90’s. The patterns hint at a volume that might escape the surface tension of the paintings, emphasizing the manner in which the line functions to contain color. A salvage pile stands in for the earlier collaged jumble of images. With the mass explosion of images that such things as the internet have engendered, it seems sensible to recycle. These works look like abstract paintings, yet they have a very concrete origin (the photograph) loaded with circumstantial content, which happens to be quite relevant and plays no small part in delivering Ruyter’s intentions.
This is Lisa Ruyter’s first exhibition in New York since 2006. Ruyter has exhibited in the US and internationally since 1993. Selected solo shows include Alan Cristea Gallery, London; Connersmith, Washington, DC; George Kargl Fine Arts, Vienna; Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo; Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris; Team Gallery, NY; and Leo Koenig, Inc., NY, among many others. The artist’s work is in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, NY; The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; La Coleccion Jumex, Mexico City; Sammlung Essl, Klosterneuberg; Museum der Moderne, Salzburg, and Le Consortium, Dijon. Ruyter has been a resident of Austria since 2003, and remains very active in the Vienna local scene, where the artist has run exhibition spaces and produced more than 30 exhibitions of other artists.