P·P·O·W is pleased to present important works by Portia Munson, Erin M. Riley, Carolee Schneemann, Aurel Schmidt, Betty Tompkins, Carrie Mae Weems and Martin Wong. Emphasizing works created in the 1990s, as well as younger artists who came of age on the cusp of a new century, our presentation will explore the complexity of female identity.
Portia Munson (b. 1961) Pink Project: Table 1994, originally exhibited in the New Museum’s Bad Girls exhibition, curated by Marcia Tucker, consists of thousands of discarded pink objects which are meticulously arranged on a large table. A visual overload of products created to appeal to women and girls, Pink Project: Table exemplifies that there is no aspect of women’s bodies or identities that corporations have not colonized. Including hair clips, pacifiers, fake fingernails, combs, dildos, cleaning products, tampon applicators, kitchen tools and sundry other items, the work reveals the marking of femininity and the chronic infantilization of what Simone de Beauvoir famously termed “the second sex”. Munson holds a BFA from Cooper Union and a MFA from Rutgers University and has studied at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Her work has been exhibited at The New Museum, New York, NY (1994); MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA (2011); The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA (2012) and The Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki (1996), Finland, among others.
Erin M. Riley (b. 1985) As a fiber artist who renders sexually explicit imagery in large-scale tapestries, Riley’s work engages craft traditions historically practiced by women to challenge contemporary conventions of sexual freedom and social stratification. Early in her career, Riley appropriated images from the internet in a series of tapestries that examined sexuality and violence. Riley’s practice has expanded to embrace the documentary and performative aspects of self-portraiture. The juxtaposition of immediate and laborious media which characterizes Riley’s practice speaks to a culture of vanity and image saturation, as well as a deep history of defining women’s identities through the production of images. Riley received a BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston (2007) and an MFA from the Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia (2009). Recent solo exhibitions include Brilliant Champions, Brooklyn NY (2016), Hashimoto Contemporary, San Francisco (2016), Joshua Liner Gallery, New York (2015), and Guerrero Gallery, San Francisco (2015), among others. Her work has been included in numerous group exhibitions and has been written about widely since 2008.
Aurel Schmidt (b. 1982) is best known for her intricate drawings that straddle the line between beauty and decay. With her new body of work, Schmidt combines intricate pencil drawing with gestural charcoal, text, rhinestones, metallic ink and body jewelry. Questioning standard conventions of femininity and masculinity, Schmidt often employs bodily references as a feminist commenting on gender dynamics, but also as anatomical specimens for lovingly meticulous study. Her site-specific installation will consists of three 8 x 4 foot panels that are densely layered with gnarled, natural imagery evoking a forest floor stuffed with vaginal flowers, sinewy roots, hostile beasts and venomous insects. Continuing her subversive appropriation of the Modernist male canon, in this work Schmidt inflects Leon Kossoff’s expressive draftsmanship with her own distinctly urban naturalia to create an environment that functions as a memento mori. Schmidt has exhibited nationally and internationally, with solo exhibitions at Deitch Projects, New York; Peres Projects, Los Angeles and The Fireplace Project, East Hampton; and has organized numerous pop-up exhibitions throughout New York City. Schmidt was included in the 2010 Whitney Biennial and has contributed to group exhibitions Andrea Rosen, New York; Marianne Boesky, New York; Marlborough Chelsea, New York; Saatchi Gallery, London; 247365, New York and Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Vienna. Her work has been featured in published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Vogue, The New Yorker, The Los Angeles Times, Interview, Paper, T Magazine and Forbes Magazine. In 2016 she opened her own gallery entitled “Romeo” to show case drawings by artists. Schmidt was born in British Columbia and currently lives and works in New York City. Her debut solo exhibition with P·P·O·W will be in the fall of 2017.
Carolee Schneemann (b. 1939) As one of the first artists to use her body in her work, Schneemann activated and took control over the formerly mute female nude. In Fuses 1965, a self-shot, silent film of collaged and painted sequences of lovemaking between Schneemann and her then partner, composer James Tenny, examines the connection between lived and mediated experience. Through various methods of post-production, Fuses imbues the materiality of film with the energies of the body, dissolving and reconfiguring the imagery to convey the density of sensation. Schneemann’s work has been exhibited worldwide, at institutions including the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Tate Modern, London; the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; The Reina Sophia Museum, Madrid and The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Her published books include Cezanne; She Was A Great Painter (1976); Early and Recent Work (1983); More Than Meat Joy: Complete Performance Works and Selected Writings (1979); Correspondence Course (2010) by Kristine Stiles, and Imaging Her Erotics–Essays, Interviews, Projects (2002). A retrospective of her work opened at the Salzburg Museum in November of 2015, and she was featured in the Tate Modern’s Performing for the Camera (2016). A feature length film on Schneemann’s work and history entitled Breaking the Frame by Marielle Nitoslawska has been screened at the Telluride Film Festival, BFI/London Film Festival, ICA London and FNC Montreal. Schneemann will present a joint exhibition, Further Evidence, at Galerie Lelong and P·P·O·W from October 21 – December 3, 2016.
Betty Tompkins (b. 1945) is best known for her acrylic on canvas portrayals of the female body and sexual desire. Having recently garnered well-deserved historical relevance, Tompkins’s radical late-1960s Fuck Paintings resulted in continual censorship by international governments and multi-national corporations. Made from erotic photographs cropped from her husband’s pornography collection, her large-scale, hyper-realistic figurative paintings are built layer by layer, using two airbrush nozzles to apply black and white acrylic. Her work is not meant to arouse fantasy but to transpose light and shade, the effect of the process enveloping the scene in sfumato. Just as Tompkins has based her paintings on the tension of intimacy and representation of sexuality, text and language often drive the subject matter and concept of her ever-evolving series WOMEN Words. Generated through an international network of email contacts, her text-based paintings explore the language ascribed to females. Tompkins has created a piece specifically for Frieze London which focuses on uniquely British words and phrases to describe women. Tompkins lives and works in New York, NY, and Pleasant Mount, PA. Recent solo exhibitions include WOMEN Words, Phrases, and Stories, Flag Art Foundation, New York (2016); Real Ersatz, FUG, The Bruce High Quality Foundation, New York (2015); Art Basel Feature, Galerie Rodolphe Janssen, Basel, Switzerland (2014); Paintings & Works on Paper 1972-2013, Gavlak Gallery, Palm Beach, FL (2014); Fuck Paintings, Galerie Rodolphe Janssen, Brussels, Belgium (2012); New Work, Mitchell Algus Gallery, New York (2009). Tompkins’s work has also been featured in numerous group exhibitions, including The Shell (LANDSCAPES, PORTRAITS & SHAPES), Almine Rech Gallery, Paris, France (2014); A Drawing Show, Matthew Marks Gallery, New York (2014); CORPUS, Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Poland (2014); A Chromatic Loss, Bortolami Gallery, New York (2014); Sunset and Pussy, Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York (2013); Elles, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2011). Her debut solo exhibition with P·P·O·W will be in the spring of 2017.
Carrie Mae Weems (b. 1953) has worked with language and photography for over thirty years to focus on racism, gender politics and African American identity. Her focus on black lived experience is largely autobiographical, but the themes her work uncovers speak to human complexity and social inclusion. Originally exhibited at P·P·O·W, Weems’ Kitchen Table Series 1990 pictures a mature woman in dynamic tension with family, friends and lover in a stark domestic interior. Under a modern fixture that cast a harsh light reminiscent of interrogation, the artist depicts the life of a un-named woman, revealing relationships with lovers, children and friends, as well as her own self-identity in varying projections of fortitude, vulnerability and isolation. Weems earned a BFA from the California Institute of the Arts, Valencia (1981), and an MFA from the University of California, San Diego (1984), continuing her studies in the Graduate Program in Folklore at the University of California, Berkeley (1984–87). Awards she has received include the Anonymous Was a Woman Award (2007); Skowhegan Medal for Photography (2007); Prix de Roma (2006); and the Pollack Krasner Foundation Grant in Photography (2002), among others. Weems’s work has appeared in major exhibitions at Savannah College of Art and Design; W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. In 2013, Weems was honored as a Fellow of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Carrie Mae Weems: Kitchen Table Series, with essays by Sarah Lewis and Adrienne Edwards, was published by Diamani/Matsumoto Editions in 2016. Carrie Mae Weems has been represented by Jack Shainman Gallery, New York since 2008.
Martin Wong (1946-1999) During the '70s, Wong was active in the San Francisco Bay Area art scene and was involved with the performance art groups The Cockettes and Angels of Light. In 1978 he moved to Manhattan, eventually settling in the Lower East Side, where his attention turned exclusively to painting. Wong set forth to depict urban life on the Lower East Side where he then lived as well as intimate portraits of neighborhood stalwarts, placing his work in line with 20-century painters like Marsden Hartley and Alice Neel. Near the end of his life, Wong turned his focus to his own heritage in his last major body of work, The Chinatown Series. His attention to cultural specificity and performative identity is exemplified by his portrait Mei Lanfang, an intimate study of Mei Lan, the legendary male performer of the Peking Opera who was renowned for leading female roles, or dan. Examining the posture one of his most iconic roles, Chend Dieyi from Farewell My Concubine, Wong’s studied attention to form, pattern and textile conveys the precision and expressiveness of a role set against the sweeping historical backdrop of 20th-Century China. Wong’s work can be found in museum collections including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, The Cleveland Museum of Art, The Bronx Museum of The Arts, The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Art Institute of Chicago; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Wong had a one person show Sweet Oblivion at the New Museum (1998). City as Canvas: New York City Graffiti from the Martin Wong Collection opened at the Museum of the City of New York in 2013 and traveled to the Amsterdam Museum in 2016. Wong's retrospective, Human Instamatic, opened at the Bronx Museum of The Arts in November 2015, the Wexner Center in Columbus, OH in May of 2016 and will open at the UC Berkeley Art Museum in San Francisco, California in the fall of 2017.