Francie Bishop Good: Comus & Fabian Peña: The Book, the Egg, and the Fly
Opening Reception, Wednesday, February 8, 2017, 6-9 PM
David Castillo Gallery is proud to present Francie Bishop Good’s Comus and Fabian Peña’s The Book, the Egg and the Fly.
Comus by Francie Bishop Good is a yearbook spread routed to portrait gallery. They belong to the artist, class of 1967 and her mother, class of 1942. They belong to the collective subjectivity of Allentown High School alumna. They belong to Allentown, Pennsylvania, to the embodied affects of memory, to the viewer, complicit in present constructions of alternative pasts. The viewer gazes over her left shoulder in cat-eye spectacles, a wide headband girding her shoulder-length flip. An overexposed oil slick hooks her mouth and obscures her neck, coaxing two tectonic plates from the formal topography of a face.
Bishop Good intervenes upon heirloom yearbooks with a shoal of painting, photography, drawing and collage in a palette rearing between organic, confectionary, and tranquil. These meditations derive from documentation spanning twenty years of the artists own works, collapsing individual and collective time arcs. Nonetheless, the forms of intergenerational yearbooks endure through Comus’ successive organization, uniform size, black-and-white, three-quarters view, comely postures and percolating smiles. Comus remains the active yearbook title of Bishop Good’s alma mater. Comus is also the ancient Greek god of mirth and merrymaking responsible for uncontrollable laughter to the point of stitches and more generally, excess to the point of chaos.
Francie Bishop Good lives and works in Florida and New York. Her work has been exhibited in the US, Europe and Latin America. She is the two-time recipient of the South Florida Cultural Consortium Fellowship. Her museum solo exhibitions include Allentown Art Museum, PA; Museum of Art, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville, FL; among others. Recent museum acquisitions include MFA Boston, The Wadsworth Atheneum, The Frost Museum at FIU, and the Museum of Art, Ft. Lauderdale.
The Book, the Egg and the Fly by Fabian Peña embraces the decadence and decay of Mikhail Bakhtin’s grotesque realism. Peña’s paintings—done in egg shells and fly carcasses—readdress printed messages from books, magazines and advertising, corrupting the integrity of the original texts by representing them in these base materials.
Degradation sits at the center of grotesque realism, where abstract principles, ideals, beliefs and practices are lowered to the material level. Peña anchors the cultural, commercial and political ideologies espoused across a diversity of texts down to the status of household pests and detritus. His is a material satire; a cutting commentary which transforms our cultural imaginary through visual turns of phrase.
As a Cuban artist working in the United States, the dichotomies of American Capitalism and Fidel Castro’s Communism play across Peña’s corruptions of public propaganda. His criticisms reveal the tenuous truths of their original messages, asking his audience to consider the often unsavory consequences and legacies that lie in the shadows of our cultural mythologies. The Egg and The Fly are themselves elements that augment, contradict, inform and articulate new ways of understanding The Book; a proxy for our grand narratives.
There is a resourcefulness to Peña’s practice, embracing not only found materials but unwanted ones. The Book, the Egg and the Fly, with the sing-song cadence of a fairy tale, refers to the artist’s distinct material vocabulary and the visceral storytelling it authors. The exhibition is a mirror held up to our media landscape—fake news, demagogues, pundits, and consumerism—revealing it all to be rubbish.
Fabian Peña was born in Havana, Cuba and lives and works in Miami, Florida. He studied at Superior Institute of Arts in Havana. Peña’s work has been shown extensively throughout the US, Europe and Latin America. His work has been featured in notable publications, including The New York Times, and The Miami Herald. Recent exhibitions include Liquid Sensibilities (2016) at CIFO Miami, Zona Ciega (2015) at the Bienal de la Habana as well as previous exhibitions such as Dead or Alive at the Museum of Art and Design in New York and New Work Miami at Miami Art Museum, among others.