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Exhibition of recent work by James Esber opens at Pierogi
James Esber, "Untitled (Father Son)," 2012 Graphite on paper, 21.25 x 15.75 inches. Photo: Courtesy the artist and Pierogi.


BROOKLYN, NY.- Pierogi presents an exhibition of recent work by James Esber. In his new work, Esber continues to address notions of distortion and perception by mining the pawed-over icons of popular culture. His fifth one-person exhibition at Pierogi will focus for the first time exclusively on two-dimensional work and will include fourteen new drawings and one painting.

Carefully shaped brushstrokes boisterously assert their position and presence on the paper’s surface while at the same time contribute to a bubbling stew of uncertainty in pictorial space. In Untitled (Figure on Ground), a prostrate figure sinks into the earth, while the teeming marks of both figure and ground melt into each other, forming a plain of floating shapes on a paper field. Unmarked areas form highlights giving mass to the figure itself. In Untitled (Father Son), marks forming the two figures seem to merge together, creating one figure in contrast to the surrounding blank space. In other works, such as Untitled (Beige Indian), Untitled (Blue Hummel with Hankie), and Untitled (Lincoln Noface), Esber marks the boundaries of representation by following the outer contours of his figurative source only to diverge radically toward their centers, creating passages of pure abstraction which demand to be recognized and given equal significance in the overall image.

The show’s single work on canvas, Painting Perpetually Shown, is part of an ongoing project in which a single work will be exhibited continuously for an indefinite period of time. Based on two iconic images, the American Indian and the American flag, conjoined uncomfortably like Siamese twins, the piece has no commentary to impart but rather seeks to generate strands of meaning through the context of it’s location. The intention is to show the same work in multiple places, both friendly and hostile to art, questioning notions of appropriateness and where and when the viewing of an art object begins and ends. A photographic trail will mark the painting’s passage through various spaces over time.

The show’s single work on canvas, Painting Perpetually Shown, is part of an ongoing project in which a single work will be exhibited continuously for an indefinite period of time. Based on two iconic images, the American Indian and the American flag, conjoined uncomfortably like Siamese twins, the piece has no commentary to impart but rather seeks to generate strands of meaning through the context of it’s location. The intention is to show the same work in multiple places, both friendly and hostile to art, questioning notions of appropriateness and where and when the viewing of an art object begins and ends. A photographic trail will mark the painting’s passage through various spaces over time.

“Esber’s work may be an acquired taste — or for those who begin with ‘taste’ in its conventional sense — an acquired tastlessness, but it is unapologetically rich in its own flavors and full of the surprises that attend not the marriage of reason and squalor but the well-plotted misalliance of fancy and funk.” (Robert Storr)

James Esber’s work has been included in numerous exhibitions, including a one-person show at The Aldrich Museum (Your Name Here). He received a BFA from the Cleveland Art Institute and studied at Skowhegan in Maine and Temple University in Rome, Italy. He is the recipient of a NYFA Fellowship award, a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, and has participated in several residencies, including Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony.





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