(Boston) – The Boston University School of Visual Arts (SVA) presents the group exhibition Casual Males on view Tuesday, September 15 through Sunday, October 25, 2009 at the Sherman Gallery at Boston University. The opening reception is open to the public and will be held on Thursday, September 17, 5:30-7:30pm with the artists present.
Casual Males is an exhibition of men by men, and explores constructions of masculinity through the varied styles of contemporary portraiture. The exhibition focuses on painting, drawing and works on paper by a selection of male artists who take innovative and traditional approaches to the male portrait, depicting themes of friendship, family, gender, and sexuality. Casual Males features artists Gideon Bok, Jonathan Burstein, Geoffrey Chadsey, TM Davy, Emmett Duggan, Frederick Hayes, Sedrick Huckaby, Kurt Kauper, Steve Locke, Rob Matthews, Sam McKinniss, and j. Morrison. The exhibition is curated by SVA Exhibitions Director Lynne Cooney.
The work in the exhibition is diverse. Gideon Bok paints a casual cool in his expressionistic group portraits of male friends and acquaintances hanging out in his studio. In Alfonso (2007-08), Jonathan Burstein literally constructs the image of the male artist out of clippings from contemporary art magazines and so transforms the image of art into a portrait of, in this case, the male artist. Geoffrey Chadsey’s large-scale drawings on mylar are composed from photographs the artist finds online. Chadsey’s Mirror (Barbasol) (2008) is an image of a young man engaged in his own reflection in a bathroom mirror thus further obliterating the often ambiguous line between public and private, and that of looking and being looked at in today’s culture of virtual voyeurship. While painted in a more traditional style, SVA alumnus Emmett Duggan’s self-portraits and portraits of friends convey an intimacy in which the psychology of the subject (or, in the case of Self-Portrait with Plaid (2008), the artist himself) reveals itself to the viewer. TM Davy’s exquisite, Caravaggio-esque paintings project a tender romanticism through which he explores notions of the male gaze and the homosexual body. SVA alumnus Kurt Kauper employs a playful, painterly realism in his series of portraits of famous hockey players from the 1970s. In the larger than life-size portrait Bobby #3 (2007), Kauper creates an imagined likeness of one of Boston’s well-known hockey stars Bobby Orr that at once destabilizes the image of the celebrity athlete and projects an ambiguity that ebbs between brute masculinity and vulnerability. Frederick Hayes’ roughly styled charcoal drawings of pseudo-fictional African American men express a restrained political consciousness that equally convey a sensitivity to and fascination with the human face. Sedrick Huckaby, also an SVA alumnus, captures his own likeness in a small yet compelling self-portrait. Huckaby’s treatment of applying thick layers of paint results in an almost sculptural effect that activates the emotional state of the subject. In works such as Line of Sight (2009), Steve Locke explores relationships between and among men through provocative compositions in which groupings of men exchange looks and glances that reveal and question the politics of desire. Rob Matthew’s enigmatic and delicately rendered graphite drawings of family and friends express an uncanny nature, or a strange familiarity. Akin to Victorian portraiture, Matthew’s figures are set within a circular frame illuminated by a single artificial light source that casts a figural shadow, like a ghostly other that hovers against an empty visual field. In Mick and David (2009), Sam McKinniss incorporates a found image of David Bowie and Mick Jagger circa 1970s in which the androgyny and sexual ambiguity of that moment is recontexualized in McKinniss’ post-political gay discourse. Performance and mixed media artist j. Morrison presents a version of his ongoing installation Friendster is for Lovers, a collage of sketched portraits of men “drawn” from the popular social networking site.
The Boston University School of Visual Arts at the College of Fine Arts is a community of artists within a great university and in a city that offers diversity within a vibrant arts culture. Founded in 1954 as a professional training school at Boston University, the school offers an intensive program of studio training combined with liberal arts studies leading to the Bachelor’s of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts degrees. The first-rate teaching and mentoring of its regular faculty is supplemented by a vibrant program of visiting artists, guest lecture series, and exhibitions. The School offers introductory and advanced classes in painting, sculpture, graphic design, art education, ceramics, photography, glassblowing, and printmaking. A solid background in art history, contemporary critical analysis, and liberal arts complements the studio arts courses.
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