“Ghost in the Machine”

By April 11, 20162015-2016

David Humphrey, Plumbing Bill, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 44 by 54 inches

April 15 – May 15, 2016
Opening Reception: Friday, April 15, 2016 from 6 – 9 PM

“Weekend Edition: 10 Things to Do in New York’s Art World Before April 18th,” Paul Laster, NY Observer, 14 April 2016

Life On Mars Gallery is pleased to present Ghost in the Machine, works by David Humphrey, Austin Lee, and Agatha Wojciechowsky.

Ghost in the Machine exemplifies one of our founding principles, namely, advocacy for painting’s relevance in the digital age. Ghost in the Machine draws parallels between Humphrey’s, Lee’s, and Wojciechowsky’s practices; the influences of painters from generation to generation, and between those with formal educations and those who are self-taught.

David Humphrey is a Guggenheim fellow; he exhibits widely across the States and internationally. He debuted at David McKee Gallery, New York, NY in 1984, and is currently represented by Fredericks & Freiser Gallery, New York, NY. Humphrey’s work is in the collections of the Denver Museum, Denver, CO; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; the Museum of Fine Art, Boston, MA; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN as well as many other private and public collections.

As critic, historian Raphael Rubinstein wrote in his Art in America review of Humphrey’s recent work:

“In most of the paintings, big abstract forms and explicitly figurative elements jostle alongside each other for the viewer’s attention. How are we supposed to take these collisions? Are the shapes and marks meant to be read as visual correlatives of the depicted narratives, emanations of the figures’ inner states?”

“These collisions” between the abstract and figurative, portraiture and brilliant color can be found in much of vernacular art. Exemplified in works by Agatha Wojciechowsky and in much of today’s most contemporary painting, notably in the work of David Humphrey and Austin Lee.

Wojciechowsky was a well-known spiritual healer, whose work was informed by her communication with the deceased. With no formal art education, she began making automatic drawings in the 1950s; first, letters of an indecipherable language, then boldly colored faces and figures in surrealist landscapes. Her work was featured in solo exhibitions in New York and Europe in the 1960s and ‘70s, and in group shows with Dubuffet, Duchamp, Man Ray, Noguchi, and Picabia.

Austin Lee is one of the most influential and exciting painters of his generation. He studied under David Humphrey at the Yale School of Art and received an MFA in Painting. Recent solo exhibitions of his work include Postmasters Gallery, New York, NY; New Galerie, Paris, France; Carl Kostyal, London, UK and Stockholm, Sweden, and Kaleidoscope in Milan, Italy. His work has been written about in Artnews, New York Magazine, Time Out New York and London, The NY Observer, Black Book, Kaleidoscope Magazine, The Spectator, and Rhizome.

Austin states, “My work is an exploration of human emotions and relationships between the digital and the physical. If my practice is a complex negotiation between different fields, I aim to keep a certain simplicity of expression and directness in experience.”

The history of painting is full of technological advancement, from Caravaggio’s and DaVinci’s use of lenses to Vermeer’s use of the camera obscura, to Degas’ use of photography. Technology aside, Austin Lee is, first and foremost, a painter. He starts by scanning a hand-made sketch; it is then run through a 3-D modeling program, the final filter being his hand (again) using an air brush to render the output from the modeling program on traditional stretched canvas.

In this way, when painters look to painting’s past and react to the technology and social conditions of the present, they can create something timeless. It is our hope that Ghost in the Machine adds to that understanding and discussion.

The title of the exhibition, Ghost in the Machine comes directly from Gilbert Ryle’s book The Concept of the Mind (1949). The book speaks of the duality of the mind–body relationship, a connection that can never actually be understood, and something that is at the heart of all painting. In our exhibition, all three artist’s use of the figure appears to be apparition – a literal and poetic reference to the show’s title.

Michael David
Artistic Director/Curator
Life on Mars Gallery
April 1, 2016

Ghost in the Machine – Installation Views

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Installation View of Ghost in the Machine, featuring works by David Humphrey, Austin Lee, and Agatha Wojciechowsky

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Installation View of Ghost in the Machine, featuring works by Austin Lee, and Agatha Wojciechowsky

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Installation View of Ghost in the Machine, featuring works by David Humphrey, Austin Lee, and Agatha Wojciechowsky

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Installation View of Ghost in the Machine, featuring works by Agatha Wojciechowsky and Austin Lee

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Installation View of Ghost in the Machine, featuring works by Agatha Wojciechowsky and David Humphrey

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Installation View of Ghost in the Machine, featuring the on-site acrylic wall drawing, “Untitled” by Austin Lee

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Installation View of Ghost in the Machine, featuring works by David Humphrey, Austin Lee, and Agatha Wojciechowsky

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Installation View of Ghost in the Machine, featuring works by David Humphrey and Agatha Wojciechowsky