Sunday, October 23, 2005

Artist of the Week (10/24/05)

I first ran across the work of Chris Doyle back about 1998 where many people first run across the works of emerging artists in Brooklyn: the miraculous flat files at Pierogi. Here were these perfect watercolors of tiny houses on relatively huge white grounds. Joe Amrhien, director of Pierogi, explained that Chris was trained as an architect, which explained his exactness, but why the minimalizing of these buildings? They had quite a psychological punch to them, but I couldn't quite put my finger on why.

By 2002, Chris was exhibiting at Jessica Murray Projects, whose press release for that first exhibitions explains:

A modest suburban house landscaped with palm trees and decorated with a pine wreath, a serene yet ominous in-ground swimming pool, a solitary abandoned lawn chair. Converting the unused white sheet into an empty landscape, Doyle creates a juxtaposition of personal place with the void, highlighting the anxiety associated with unfulfilled domestic expectations. Together these poignant passages capture the disjointed psyche of the American landscape.
It is the void, but it's not a lonely void to's too pristine or clinical to be lonely in the way I conceive lonliness (i.e., something that clean must be maintained to remain that way, and that suggests the prescence of someone, whereas a Wyeth landscape [just to keep that topic running] for example suggests the lonliness of abandonment). It's more of a void of warmth...of heart (which is certainly not to be read as a comment about the artist, who's one of the most charming guys in the NY scene). Here are a few more of these jewel like watercolors:

Chris Doyle, Untitled (House Series), 2001-02, watercolor on paper, 9" x 9” (image from Jessica Murray Project's website)

Chris Doyle, Untitled (House Series), 2001-02, watercolor on paper, 9" x 9” (image from Jessica Murray Project's website)

By his next solo exhibition, Chris had gone inside (literally and figuratively). His much larger watercolors from stills of videos of his family are warmer and certainly more intimate, suggesting, as autobiographical work tends to do, an examination of the role of the Artist in various social settings (here, family life). From that exhibition's press release:

By capturing the “photograph” and creating a painting of a shared meal; the reenactment of a famous 70s performance; the artist sorting out a mess of wires; or “Friday Night Talent Nite” with the family playing amid piles of dolls and stuffed animals, Doyle aims to expand his own experience and prolong the intimacy of the moment. By combining everyday life activities with homages to the practice of art making, the artist explores the interplay between private and public histories.
And my favorite image from that exhibition:

Chris Doyle, Friday Night Talent Nite, 2003, watercolor on paper, 46" x 34” (image from Jessica Murray Project's website)

For his most recent exhibition (which recently opened at Jessica's new-ish Chelsea space, so you have plenty of time to still catch it), Chris is focussing on video works. I had heard quite a buzz about these new pieces, and when I saw them I understood why. Much like his earliest watercolors, they're jewel-like explorations within a haunting void. I asked Chris at his opening, which one was his favorite, and he said the one with the eagle:

Doyle has constructed an eagle with a 25-foot wingspan. Made from fluorescent tubes, the illuminated centerpiece of the exhibition uses this prime symbol of American patriotism to investigate the multiple associations with freedom and predator. In a related video, entitled “Power” Doyle creates a stop-action animation from the skeleton of his giant aviator. His video is then encased within the face of a sterling silver Western style belt buckle, presenting this miniaturized icon as ready-to-wear.
Here's a still:

Chris Doyle, Power, 2005, Digital file transferred to DVD, presented on a flat screen, inset into a sterling silver trophy belt buckle, running time: 1:50 (image from Jessica Murray Project's website)

There's another video in this exhibition that's sure to become a signature piece for Chris as well. Again, using stop-animation, he "flies" around his studio (or at least I think that's his studio) at about 2.5 feet off the floor. The jagged quality of the movement reveals that he's not on wires, but it's so exquisitely edited, the viewer is left wondering just how this footage was captured. Chris offers up the secret willinginly, but I won't spoil the fun for you. Go see the show.

Chris Doyle, Flight, 2005, Digital file transferred to DVD (image from Jessica Murray Project's website)


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