Ultra Artifice

Artifice is a positive term, a celebration of the idea of thoughtful art, of making that knows its power and persuasive form. Artificers take things out of mass media and make them better. In current artistic practice, artifice signals a highly seductive ploy, a flash of beauty that initiates desire, pulls in the viewer and reader to the captivating sensual pleasure of the image and the text. These artificers take up the already fake stuff of life, the artificial flowers and phony furs, the ideas of paradise and innocence, the dazzle of paste gems and the rich surfaces of consumable goods. They use these richly colored shiny things as the materials of painting and sculpting. They make the glittering canvases and super-saturated photos into spaces of contemplation and diversion. They trap and hold the eye until the mind is intertwined in decoration, or excess, or in the sheer absorbing pleasure of an elaborately created space. Artifice is not the same as inauthenticity, though both have a great place in our current lives. They both signal the inability of anything to appear as itself, but artifice makes a virtue of that condition, turning it away from the debased and superficial condition of a vice. A greedy impulse pushes artists to compete with the production values of consumer culture, to make work that overwhelms and rushes the senses with the same capacity. But instead of the fast-food junk reflex, this work has a nurturing effect, soothing and stimulating the eager pleasure centers towards appreciation of aesthetic experience. These are works that provide an immersive experience, a heavy duty rush, a gorgeous overload of too much stimulation. Do they succeed in their competitive bid to equal the special effects of consumer products? Or do they simply offer their own version of indulgence and show up the made-ness and constructed-ness of images and art?

Anne George & Brad Freeman - Once Removed
John Gossage & Teri Weifenbach - Snake Eyes
Susan Bee - Tree of Lost Dreams & Red Dot
Lari Pittman - With Appreciation, I will have had understood [artists.]
Julia Jacquette - White on White (Sixteen Wedding Dresses) III
Elena Sisto - Fidelius & The Southern Irish
Bill Davenport - Small Octagon
Anna Gaskell - Untitled #33 (Hide) & Untitled #34 (Hide)
Daniel Wiener - Knave & Tableaux
Gregory Crewdson - Untitled & Untitled