Brooke Alexander Gallery

Colab Redux

May - August 2008


As a brief, historical review, Colab Redux is a return to the New York scene of the 1980's. At this time, emerging artists were moving beyond the imperious Minimalism that dominated the previous decade. This was a new groundswell, where expressionism was being returned to its throne. Cultural appropriation, an acute political awareness (both global and local), and the cross-pollination of music, video, and performance were mished and mashed into a new front.

Collaborative Projects
(oft referred to as Colab) rose from within this diverse group of artists to create a loosely-associated base, where the members could create together, and offer an exchange of talent, ideas, and support. For over ten years, as an over-arching organization, Colab helped to foster a sense of community-within-community, underwriting exhibitions (most famously the 'Times Square Show' in 1980), and hosting open workshops and local art-centers (such as ABC NoRio).

It is not the focus of this exhibition to document every single member who comprised the group, nor is this a study of direct collaborations that resulted from its existence. Rather, it is an opportunity to take a closer look at some of the members on an individual level, each autonomous, and yet still related to the others through the spirits of the collective. If any single aspect unites the works, it is perhaps the pure youthful exuberance. There is also a pervasive sense of violence and aggression, reflecting the city as a whole at the time, along with an obvious acclimation towards raw experimentation.

Jenny Holzer and Peter Nadin show both individual works and collaborative projects, namely works from The Living Series, where the brutal but honest insights of Holzer are paired with reductive portraits by Nadin. Joseph Nechvatal is provocative in his reflection of visual blight. His drawings are overloaded with the debris of deliberately diseased information.

In Male Revolution, Tom Otterness delights in using streamlined, almost neutral sculptural figures to smoothly reflect the more sinister nature of Man's true self. Richard Bosman adopts an intentionally rough draftsmanship in his paintings and prints. This is applied to noir-ish, Pulp fiction vignettes, such as Death of a Femme Fetale. Walter Robinson's G.I.s are spray-painted stencils that hover between graffiti and classic portraiture.

Robin Winters, a truly multi-media artist, is represented in several forms including painting, drawing, and sculpture, all of which combine a humorist's touch with the slightly shamanistic zeal for the creative process. Judy Rifka, in paintings like SPRA, melds formalist painting considerations with a loose and lyrical "No Wave" visual style. Richard Mock, like many of the artist here, worked with several styles, mediums, and themes in his career. Here, a series of his abstract paintings, dealing with vivid colors and thick impastos, add a visual zing.

John Ahearn is an urban realist, working with painted plaster casts of real subjects in his life, such as friends and neighbors. Here, he shows one of his fellow artists: Tom Otterness. Both Jane Dickson and Robert Longo also deal with urban realism. The former often works in a pointillist narrative on a black ground, such as in The White Haired Girl, while the later singles out a classic theme: the contemporary, if aggressive, city man in a fitted suit.

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