Piers Secunda: ISIS Bullet Hole Paintings


 


Piers Secunda
ISIS Bullet Hole Paintings

April 6 – May 6, 2017

There is a horror and a fascination in something as apparently permanent as a building, something that one expects to last many a human span, meeting an untimely end.
— Robert Bevan, The Destruction of Memory: Architecture at War

All the shot works originate from the idea that the most valuable thing an artist can do is to record the world around them.
— Piers Secunda

Gathered together and displayed to potent effect at 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel, Piers Secunda’s ISIS Bullet Hole Paintings are the latest iteration of an ongoing project in which casts of bullet holes gathered from war torn or heavily militarized places are arranged into compositions that serve as both an indexical record of real world damage and a haunting reminder of the threat that contemporary armed conflict presents to our collective history. These works were created through a painstaking and sometimes risky process.
In late 2015 while under the protection of Peshmerga (Kurdish) soldiers, Secunda visited Iraqi villages recently liberated from ISIS and made direct casts of the damage inflicted on walls and other structures by gunfire. On returning to the studio, he arranged these within flat molds derived from ancient Greek and Assyrian artworks, poured in white industrial floor paint, and left it to set. The resulting objects are stark and compelling evocations of the barbaric violation of cultural heritage that is all too common in contemporary wartime. The violent erasure of noble classical imagery—gods, kings, elegant warhorses—beneath Secunda’s constellations of bullet-hole disfigurement elicits an acute feeling of loss and decay. In Assyrian Horse and a relief from the Pergamon:

Temple of Zeus (both 2016), the annihilation unfolds as a sequence of discrete moments frozen in time, with

each succeeding panel rendered more fragmentary than the last until there is little to nothing of the original image discernable. Temple of Zeus is particularly pointed, for its use of a slick and absurdly faultless nineteenth-century restoration of the Pergamon Altar seems to hint at the futility of the age-old human desire to reverse the course of time in search of Eden.

Despite the obvious sculptural quality of these works, Secunda considers them to be a natural outgrowth of his continuing evolution as a painter, and has sometimes described them in terms that evoke the centuries-old tradition of arresting time’s passage in paint and freezing fleeting moments before they’re gone forever.

Although the ISIS Bullet Hole Paintings were not conceived as political statements per se, their emergence from his desire to capture the texture of geopolitics in paint has resulted in a body of works that succeeds as both a record of the ravages of time—aided in this case by much human brutality—and as a meditation on how fleeting and fragile even our greatest cultural achievements really are.

Recent exhibitions:
“Pergamon Alterations” New York University Institute of Fine Arts, New York 2016. “Perfectionism III”
Griffin Gallery, London 2016. “Piers Secunda, Circling Skies” Art Bermondsey Project Space, London 2016.
“The Missing: Rebuilding The Past” John Jay College CUNY, New York 2016.
“The Missing: Rebuilding ThePast” Jessica Carlisle Gallery, London 2016.
“Raw: Word And Image” Space 776, Brooklyn 2015.
“Community Hospital” WhyWhyArt, Shanghai 2015.

Media Inquiries

Nadine Johnson & Associates Inc.
+1 212 228 5555

Gia Kuan
gia@nadinejohnson.com

Anna Lund
anna.lund@nadinejohnson.com

 

 

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LAST PICTURE SHOW


May 11, 2017

LAST PICTURE SHOW

there is no harm in repeating a good thing
-Plato

An exhibition of work which posits the idea that creativity exists in not knowing, maybe the answer is “I can’t go on, I’ll go on”? Risk is imperative, but we still know very little about the potential of what works and why? The pendulum has always swung between abjection and elation. Qualities such as tenderness and humour connect this ensemble, a conversation often overlooked in favour of what can be read or justified. An exhibition showing a particular group of artists, who look to possess these qualities, inhabit new and old at the same time? History is apparent in a show like this but so is the future through the prism of the present?

The title refers to the Peter Bogdanovich film of 1971 “The Last Picture Show” which was shot entirely in black and white, harking back to an earlier time (again old and new) populated with a soundtrack of pop songs and presenting actors including Cybil Shepherd and Cloris Leachman at different stages of their respective careers in dialogue together. There seems no reason for the town they inhabit in the film (set in 1951) to exist, but the directness and simplicity of the depiction creates a space which allows for dialogue and a kind of transgression to occur?

ARTISTS:

Diana Copperwhite, Elio Rodriguez, Mary Heilmann, Vanessa Jackson, Jill Levine, Chris Ofili, Danny Rolph, Rebecca Smith

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532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel | Phone 917.701.3338 | info@532gallery.com | 532 West 25th Street NY 10001 Tuesday - Friday 11-6pm, Sat 12-6pm Follow 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel on Artsy