Work of Art: Abdi Farah, an exhibition of work by the winner of Work of Art, Bravo's hour-long creative competition 10-part television series among contemporary artists will open to the public on Saturday August 14. This exhibition, which will be on view at the Brooklyn Museum
through October 17, 2010, highlights ten artworks recently created in a variety of media by Abdi Farah.
Libation is the centerpiece of the exhibition. A life-size sculpture of two young men sprawled on the floor, its immediacy is heightened by the addition of sneakers on the feet of both men. The drawing Ichabod and the painting Grey (Farewell Line) also represent the figure in a naturalistic manner, capturing poses and gestures from behind. Poor Reflection, Mirror, and Alien show the body disjointed by radical cropping and rendered in irradiated colors. The title of a related painting, Tuskegee (Warm Body), makes reference to the infamous biomedical experiments conducted at the Tuskegee Institute by the U.S. Public Health Service. The electric hues that characterize these last four works reveal Farah's fascination with infrared imaging, commonly used by the military and in medicine, while Untitled and Home each show a partial view of a body bag lying on the floor, suggesting the expiration of "crude matter" and, perhaps, a threshold to another state of being.
Produced over a period of three months, the figurative paintings, sculpture, and drawings on view reflect Farah's investigation of the human body as a material entity that possesses the potential to transcend its physical being. A recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Abdi Farah has participated in the Yale Norfolk Summer School of Art in 2008. He was also named a Presidential Scholar in the Arts and was awarded the Scholastics Art and Writing Gold Portfolio.
Work of Art: The Next Great Artist is a recently concluded, creative competition show among contemporary artists from across the United States for a cash prize and this exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. The competition aired as a Bravo cable television series-- similar to other shoes on the network that have pitted aspiring chefs or fashion designers against each other. Contests such as Work of Art are not unfamiliar to art museums. In nineteenth-century France, the principal route to prominence for an artist was to enter his or (rarely) her work in a competition held every year or two at the Louvre. A jury of experts presided, selecting from thousands of submissions. That tradition of the competitive "juried exhibition," greatly modified for a different age and culture, crossed the Atlantic and became a staple of American museums through much of the twentieth century.
Work of Art is a direct descendent of the juried-exhibition tradition. The judges included art enthusiast and series host China Chow; New York magazine critic Jerry Saltz; and gallerists Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn and Bill Powers. Art auctioneer Simon de Pury participated as mentor to the contestants, and a different guest judge joined the panel each week. The Brooklyn Museum's John and Barbara Vogelstein Curator of Contemporary Art, Eugenie Tsai, advised in the final selection of the winner.
The exhibition Work of Art: Abdi Farah has been organized by the Brooklyn Museum in cooperation with Bravo, as well as the show's production companies, Magical Elves and Pretty Matches. Eugenie Tsai, John and Barbara Vogelstein Curator of Contemporary Art at the Brooklyn Museum is curator of the exhibition.