All My Friends Are Dead
December 01, 2007 —
January 17, 2008
Honor Fraser Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of new works by Gardar Eide Einarsson.
Einarsson is known for works whose apparent directness belies a complex and circuitous web of meanings. His paintings are usually black and white, and he employs the visual language and slogans used by rebels and revolutionaries, as well as authoritarian and political institutions, to instantly communicate black and white world views. But the instantly apprehensible messages and the clear visual language of graffiti and political posters are ironically undermined and displaced by their context — provided by, among other factors, his titles and subtitles, as well as the gallery environment and the times we live in.
In All My Friends Are Dead, Einarsson uses an inkjet printing on plywood to reproduce nine images from a 1960s police instruction manual. The calm and neutral posture of the policeman illustrating ways of handling a baton is in contrast to the violent situations evoked. This contrast is accentuated by the fact that the figures are reproduced at 90% of actual scale — a tactic used at Disneyland to make his figures more approachable — providing a further ironic counterpoint to the content of the images. The seeping of the ink onto the rough plywood seems to negate the clear-cut attitude that characterizes both authority and rebellion, while the unusual medium chimes with his frequent use of what he terms 'transparent' means of representation — rough photocopies, drips of paint — for their references to their means of production.
Other works in the show reflect Einarsson's interest in the language of revolt, and in undermining it ironically. Masks — based on images of masks he has seen of rebellions in developing countries — are here fashioned out of sweatpants, symbols of American leisure. A painting refers to the cover of Misfits, the biography of author Frederick Exley, one of various marginal figures in American culture that feature in Einarrson's work.
The apparently clear visual language in Einarsson's works present a backdrop for the complexities of interpretation for the view to unravel. While on one level the work seems to be concerned with political themes — mechanisms of social control, the systems, cultures and individuals which run counter to those mechanisms. It can also be argued however that the work is reflexive, taking at its real subject both the making of art, (with references, such as paint drips, to its means of production), and meaning itself — communicated visually and linguistically — and the ways in which art can produce it, play with it, and complicate it.
Born in Norway, Gardar Eide Einarsson lives and works in New York. His work has been exhibited in solo shows in Oslo, Berlin, Köln, Paris and Copenhagen as well as the United States, and in group exhibitions throughout Europe. He will be included in the 2008 Whitney Biennial opening March 6.