On Summer Solstice, the longest and brightest day of the year, a new collaborative curatorial project called “Dos Perros” – comprised of artists Alejandro Jimenez & Nathan Thomas – had its inaugural exhibition in their intimate apartment gallery space near Ashland and Augusta. Titled Who u See?, the exhibition featured the work artists Oliver Henry and Brandon Seckler. Henry and Seckler are Chicago-based and share a studio, though their practices are quite divergent. It was the sharing of this common space and exchange between the two that most appealed to the curators of Dos Perros. As friends and colleagues Alejandro and Nathan have worked together for a long time and thus have a special interest in this type of creative and collaborative dialogue.
Both Henry and Seckler have an interest in how identity is constructed, though they approach this issue differently. Henry typically considers the architectural context that his work is shown within and his work at Dos Perros was no exception. His main pieces focused on a reoccurring theme for him, images of the actor Klaus Kinski as Nosferateu. Henry began working with these staged images after learning more about the peculiar realities of Kinski as a person and an actor. By applying thick silver paint with his fingers and manipulating Kinski’s image, these works explore the duality of his identity as an actor and as an abstraction of a person. Literally becoming part of the architecture of Dos Perros, Lick My Decals Off, Baby(2013), an image of Kinski and his co-star in Nosferateu, is enlarged onto a wall to wall floor vinyl that covers the entire gallery. In order to interact with rest of the show, viewers must walk across the vinyl, leaving footprints that add yet another layer of marks to further abstract the piece. The other work from his Kinski series in the exhibition, Miss U(2013), is another photo-image from Nosferateu, layered with thick silver paint and hung in a small frame on the wall in contrast with the size of the all-encompassing floor vinyl.
Seckler filled the gallery walls with large denim wall hangings that are dyed or bleached. In his recent studio practice, he has been focused on experiments with various water-based media on a variety of substrates. In the resultant pieces, it is difficult to determine where the media was originally applied, blurring the boundaries between mark and surface. Both of his denim pieces in the exhibition,NO EGO (positive) and NO EGO (negative), both 2013, use the words ‘NO EGO’ to create the image, but Seckler allowed bleach or dye to soak and bleed into the fabric creating beautifully indistinct lines that obscure the text and meaning until they become almost figurative in intense dark blue and purple tones. Seckler cites this text as not being a value statement but more so an examination of how one’s identity is constructed, its fluidity and malleability. These concerns in the shifting lines of identity and its manifestations create a dark, eerie effect that presents the viewer with multiple layers meaning and imagery.
The curators did an impressive job of incorporating these two very different approaches and making them into a cohesive whole, although there were two works that seemed a bit out of place, Henry’sLovi Dovi, (2013) and Seckler’s Bag (2013). Henry’s Lovi Dovi piece comes out of another ongoing practice in which he works with American Airlines creamer packets (which he says inspired him with the notion of an object being specifically created to be used high in the sky) and sometimes other ready-made objects. Unfortunately the Lovi Dovi work at Dos Perros was easily overlooked, quietly sitting on the windowsill and overshadowed by the larger more dynamic works filling the floors and walls of the gallery. Seckler’s piece Bag, was outside as you entered the apartment building and due to the materials it was made from (Christmas lights, a trash bag and some water) it blended easily into the background. It is possible this subtlety was the intention of both the artists and curators but because of this disconnect, the pieces were easily overlooked.
It will be interesting to see what comes next for this dynamic little space and creative curatorial team. Alejandro and Nathan seem devoted to providing a forum for artists to express their ideas in a setting that is open to both the humorous and ironic sides of art as well as the more critical theory based aspects. Though the Dos Perros space is a small one-room gallery, Who u See? is an effective and ambitious collaboration of these artists and artist/curators that highlights where Seckler and Henry’s ideas intersect and influence one another with a dark and edgy little show.
Who U See? is on view at Dos Perros Projects, 859 N Marshfield Ave Side 2R, through July 31st.
Hours by appointment; to view, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. All images courtesy Dos Perros Projects.