Marlborough Chelsea is pleased to present Altered States, a solo exhibition of new paintings, sculptures and installation by Valerie Hegarty, opening the evening of Thursday, April 5 from 6PM – 8PM at the gallery, located at 545 West 25th Street.
The show’s title Altered States has several references including a play on The United States of America and its current political climate, Hegarty’s continuing investigation in transformation, and Paddy Chayefsky’s 1978 science fiction novel and subsequent horror film adaptation where the protagonist’s mind experiments causes him to morph physically. The state of objects, where form is unclassifiable due to a period of transition, permeates Hegarty’s new series of meticulously fabricated deconstructions of paintings, furniture and a rug from America’s colonial era. Hegarty’s installation work of torn paper walls and floors function to extend the frame of these ciphers of history.
Hegarty’s depiction of destruction is a departure point to examine larger issues of erasure, repression, the uncanny, metamorphosis, death and rebirth. Hegarty painstakingly crafts her works from foam core, papier mâché and ink-jet prints on canvas that she then paints, carves, twists, drapes, amputates, and grafts to create mutated originals where the fictional disasters behave as a catalyst for the works coming back to life.
In Headless George Washington with Table (Lansdowne Portrait), 2012, Hegarty creates a scene of fire damage in order to explore the history of portraiture, the intersection between abstraction and figuration and the shifting nature of identity. The installation depicts the famous Lansdowne portrait of George Washington (one version of which was rescued from a fire in the White House during the War of 1812). The scene displays a parallel history, one in which the painting did not escape the fire but was melted from the top. Now headless, George Washington’s body retains its leadership pose while an umbilical cord-like stream of paint and canvas drains down the painting and drapes on the burnt and broken table below as if giving birth to the new face of American identity which is yet unformed. Shipwrecked Armoire with Barnacles, 2012 recalls the darker side of expansionism and mercantilism with its haunting skeleton. This fabricated early American armoire appears as if it has been cast out to sea, floating in the ocean like driftwood and overgrown with barnacles. What was once a container for clothing in a wealthy home becomes a strainer for the ocean and its secrets. If life and history are cyclical, Rug with Grass, 2012, created in conjunction with BravinLee Programs, references the phase when desolation turns into rebirth. Here, Hegarty turns an imitation Aubusson rug into a scenario of deterioration, fecundity and foliage. Patches of grass emerge through various parts of a rug, giving the indication that nature is fighting a guerilla war with man.
Valerie Hegarty received a BA from Middlebury College in Vermont in 1989, a BFA from the Academy of Art College in San Francisco in 1995, and an MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago in 2002. Upcoming solo exhibitions include Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, NY (2012) and three special project installations in the period rooms of the Brooklyn Museum with assistance from BravinLee Programs, NY (2013).
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