September 9 - October 1, 2022
Robertson Arès is delighted to kickstart its fall programming with "Bloom", a group exhibition curated by Colorado-based artist and curator Derrick Velasquez featuring artworks by Megan Gafford, Sierra Montoya Barela, Jon Geiger, Ashley Eliza Williams, Matt Tripodi, Marina Kassianidou, Alexander Richard Wilson, Jessica Langley and Joseph Coniff.
BLOOM is not about flowers. But, it’s really about flowers. The artists presented in this exhibition tap into ideas about growth, expansion and contraction, progeny, mycological studies and the spaces in which life can begin, expand, or end. Flowers have taken center stage throughout art history. Whether acting as metaphors and allegories in still life paintings, producing beauty and structure within designed ornamentation, or being the symbol of love within reality television, the bloom is ubiquitous throughout culture.
ABOUT THE CURATOR
Derrick Velasquez (b. 1982, Lodi) is an artist and curator based in Denver, Colorado. He holds a BFA in Studio Art and a BA in Art History from the University of California, Santa Barbara, as well as an MFA from The Ohio State University. His most recent exhibitions include solo shows at The Herron School of Art and Design, The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, The Black Cube Nomadic Museum, and the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art. Velasquez also had group exhibitions at Flowers Gallery, Transmitter and The Frame Gallery at Carnegie Mellon. In 2017, he was the recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant for Painters and Sculptors, and in 2019, the MacDowell Colony Fellow. Derrick Velasquez also runs Yes Ma’am Projects, an artist run gallery. His work places sculpture and installation in dialogue with architecture and design. His “Untitled” series draws on the sinews of the human body, each wall-mounted piece carefully made with layered vinyl strips to evoke distorted rainbows or the growth rings of trees.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Megan Gafford has worked with physicists to mutate daisies like the ones found after the Fukushima Nuclear Plant meltdown. The correlation between Japan and nuclear warfare is clear - images of a mushroom cloud rising like a sped-up flower growing is brought to the aftermath of such power. Fallout, radiation, and potential mutation are captured as paired daisies encased in resin and glass.
Sierra Montoya Barela uses domestic interior imagery slightly askew to create odd worlds of personal space. Plants become compositional anchors among patterned floors and windows giving glimpses to place and and outside world. These paintings show the proliferation of repeated flower motifs as pattern as well as the living growth of plants with a home.
Jon Geiger, a ceramic artist, creates small place holders that capture moments spent with his children. Gathering objects with his offspring, he assess what is collected and arranges the, rocks, wood, and other treasures, and hand builds receptacles of care and love to preserve memories embodied.
Ashley Eliza Williams studies intimate ecology with a deep curiosity. Going on hikes in various parts of the United States, she toes the line between surrealism, science fiction, and technical painting to communicate with nature. In her painting, she builds a compendium of ecological imagery akin to a natural history museum. She also speculates on shifting modes of communication with creatures known and unknown.
Matt Tripodi paints exuberant and crude imagery of everyday cultural objects including various “big cats”, plates of sushi and early video games. In his painting “Flower Experiment” Tripodi goes beyond nostalgia by painting a not so simple bouquet of flowers. There is a raw coolness to this imagery that mixes dark roses with white lilies and nondescript neon flowers. It becomes an unnatural composition on a blank white white canvas that gives the sense of the bouquet floating or falling.
Marina Kassianidou pays acute attention to flower patterns in her native country of Cyprus. Growing up on a small island country, she recalls how the simple patterns used in wallpaper, fabric, and flooring were generalized by tastes of the handful of shops that sold these items. They were beautiful and when returning to Cyprus from the United States she would buy lots of material to analyze and use in her art practice. Kassianadou meticulously cuts individual flowers from the fabric and subtly disrupts the patterns that already exist within the fabric.
The paintings of Alexander Richard Wilson reflect on his experience of being a black artist in the American West. Moving to Denver, Colorado during the pandemic, they found themselves among a climate disaster in the form of wildfires in the Rocky Mountains. Plumes of smoke rose and covered the sun creating a red ball in the sky. Their quick painting style reflects on feelings of limited time on the planet shortening even faster.
Jessica Langley’s interest in landscape and environment have led to her working with mushrooms as a medium. By blending and creating pulp out of mycelium Langley creates a substrate to paint or work into other materials. Her paintings use complex backgrounds depicting dense bark and leaves with a rainbow line overlaid. The colorful path represents the artist’s experience foraging and wandering using psychedelics to reach spiritual spaces.
Joseph Coniff (b. 1981) explores the cultural and historical developments of materials and objects through sculpture, painting, collage, and photography. His work often displays a balance of clarity and ambiguity, thus changing the viewer’s understanding of the materials and subjects presented. His Dozen series consists of UV cured pigment photographs of rose bouquets rendered blurry by a layer of frosted acrylic — a cynical twist on an otherwise quintessential symbol of love and romance.