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First U.S. museum exhibition of artist Stephen Lapthisophon premieres at Dallas Museum of Art
Stephen Lapthisophon—coffee, seasonal fruit, root vegetables, and “Selected Poems”, 2013. Courtesy of Dallas Museum of Art.

DALLAS, TX.- Dallas-based artist Stephen Lapthisophon presents an installation featuring new works on paper, mural elements, and found objects at the Dallas Museum of Art in his first solo museum exhibition. Concentrations 56: Stephen Lapthisophon­­­—coffee, seasonal fruit, root vegetables, and “Selected Poems,” on view October 27, 2013, through March 30, 2014, is part of the Concentrations series of project-based solo exhibitions by international emerging and under-represented artists. The series began in 1981 as part of the DMA’s commitment to showing the work of living artists, while preserving the excitement of the work.

“The Dallas Museum of Art is very pleased to be the first museum to present the work of Stephen Lapthisophon, a North Texas artist, in both his first solo exhibition and as part of our long-standing Concentrations series,” said Maxwell L. Anderson, The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art. “For more than thirty years, Concentrations has showcased large-scale installations of over fifty emerging artists, with the goal of making the work of contemporary artists more accessible to DMA audiences.”

Stephen Lapthisophon openly embraces chance and mistake, as evidenced by the accidental nature of his gestural mark-making. In his installations and collaged works on paper, he rejects ideas of high polish and refined craftsmanship in favor of a chaotic, de-skilled aesthetic that is open to chance; humble materials; and the experiences of daily life. His work often employs food materials such as eggshells and coffee grounds that imbue his work with a palpable material presence that is at once fragile and ephemeral.

Other elements such as pigment infused with saffron or bacon fat, or sprigs of rosemary scattered throughout the space, call upon our sense of smell, creating a full-sensory art experience. The artist’s interest in a full-sensory experience of art relates back to his loss of sight in the early 1990s, resulting from an optic nerve disease. Now legally blind, Lapthisophon’s work goes beyond the typical realm of the visual and encourages viewers to think of radically different possibilities for artistic production.

“Stephen has been an influential mentor to a generation of emerging artists from North Texas, and it is a privilege to showcase his richly layered, thought-provoking work for the community at large,” added Gabriel Ritter, The Nancy and Tim Hanley Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art.

For his current installation at the Dallas Museum of Art, Lapthisophon has created a space reminiscent of his studio, in which walls layer and obscure space, similar to his collage technique. Works on paper—some framed, others pinned directly to the wall—will be joined by anachronistic objects such as an antique record player, milk crate, and desk. These objects, much like the ubiquitous text throughout Lapthisophon’s work, are carefully selected for their datedness, and they function as a form of quotation, alluding to past moments or literary/philosophical references.

Lapthisophon studied comparative literature and theory at Northwestern University and received his M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1979. He spent the next thirty years living and working in the Chicago area. In August 2007, he relocated to Dallas after participating in the University of Texas at Dallas’s Artist in Residence program. Lapthisophon was the recipient of the 2012 Moss/Chumley Artist Award, given annually to an outstanding North Texas artist. In 2008, Lapthisophon was awarded the prestigious Wynn Newhouse Award for artists with disabilities. He has taught at Columbia College in Chicago, the School of the Art Institute, and the University of Texas at Dallas. Lapthisophon currently teaches art and art history at the University of Texas at Arlington, and has exhibited at various institutions and galleries throughout the U.S. and Europe.

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