Plus Gallery presents one of our most significant group efforts to-date with the invitational exhibition “Super Human” from July 10th through August 15th. The survey brings together a wide ranging field of artists from around the world that collectively depict diverse directions in portraiture or a strong focus on the human condition, anchored by an array of Plus Gallery’s most acclaimed artists. A massing of small-scale 2-d works are intermixed with a trio of highly entertaining motion-based artworks, all anchored by a riveting sculpture by artist Roger Reutimann.
Super – | ’soōpә r | adjective – informal very good or pleasant; excellent.
Human – | (h)yoomn | adjective – of or characteristic of people as opposed to God or animals or machines, esp. in being susceptible to weaknesses.
As defined by the OED, to be super is to be great, magnificent and above the rest. To be super is to be something uniquely extraordinary. To be human is to be separate from any other species or entity, of this world and beyond, and crucially, to be capable of error. The hybridization that occurs when combining these terms creates a space for infinite possibilities in terms of what the Super Human is capable of. New elements are added which provide a sense of fantasy, mystery, and obscuration that are outside of the norm. These portraits represent a diverse range of ideas on people today, how we document ourselves and others, the true versus the ideal, the combination of the physical with the spiritual, and so on. These works draw the viewer in to contemplate what is in front of them, calling upon them to read into the works and the concepts behind their executions. What does it means to be super human? Or rather how do you convey such a concept? One must consider these contexts in order to grasp the artists intentions behind the works.
We live in a time when access to imagery is limitless, it surrounds us constantly. Through social media, the internet, billboards, TV, etc., we are inundated with images of people to the point where we become numb. For the “Super Human” to exist is to revive notions on what it is to live in a time where technology warps our perception of reality but instead of stripping that down, takes it one, or two, or 10 steps further. By blurring those lines and redefining the human through a variety of representations, (whether it be additions to the body or a totally new anthropomorphic form) “Super Human” turns the ordinary into the extraordinary. By creating such tensions the works invoke the desire to know more about what is going on both in front of your eyes and behind the scenes. Artist Megan Burns aptly describes this notion within her artist statement, honing in on “the frustrated desire to know what has just happened and what might happen next.” By allowing new forms to operate in this way, creating what fellow Super Human artist Donald Fodness calls “unsettling complexities” the multilayered aspects of the show are highlighted. What makes “Super Human” dynamic is not only the wide range of artists within the exhibition but the objectives which have produced such interesting explorations into portraiture today.
Given these complexities and the individual nature of each piece within the exhibition, “Super Human” acts as a vehicle for re-understanding our perceptions of one another through artistic representations. Whether they be through 2-d works, motion-based pieces or sculptural forms, one gains a sense of the depth of this topic, it’s hybridity, and the variety of forms it has taken through this group’s eyes.
- Nicki Maggiore, Plus Gallery associate, June 2014
The basis for the concept of “Super Human” began with the painting “Thank You” by Plus Gallery artist Jenny Morgan, the third portrait of her father as interpreted from the only photo session he has agreed to participate in. Lynn Morgan is one of the most important figures in Jenny’s life, along with her mother Ruth, and both have supported her path as an artist from a very early age and into the present, most likely feeling some degree of shock at the level of success she has attained through pursuing work that is often challenging to the masses. There are many layers of complexity to the unflinching parental support given Morgan, known only to the artist and only guessed at by others, including the gallery associates and clients, but by all estimations we interpret the latest painting of Morgan’s father to be that of a very special person indeed. It allows us to understand not only Morgan’s work better but that of all artists working with a relationship to the human, sub-human or super-human that has captivated humanity through the ages.
One of the strengths of the current Plus Gallery stable of artists is the diverse mixture that frequently riff on people, in ways that may be uncommon in the local market but stand up perfectly well to a vast network of artists spanning the globe immersed in like-minded pursuits. Bill Amundson, not one to shy away from the more grotesque facets of humanity while consistently plunging himself in the mix; Wes Magyar, one of the few artists sought frequently for commissions while at the same time exploring a deeply challenging impression of both youth and adults in his personal work; Austin Parkhill, who captures an honest truth about the figure, working directly with sources that can easily be interpreted as super in both perception and the scale of execution in his work; Gabriel Liston, fanatically painting for over a decade the “reality” of life and youth in a style more associated with traditional painters; and Xi Zhang, an absolute wonder when it comes to interpreting humanity across historic and physical boundaries, with some of the most engaging sensibilities of our time. Also added into the mix are Donald Fodness and Jon Rietfors, two artists whose artistic explorations have fewer boundaries and who occasionally put forth searing, brilliantly realized connections to what is human.
Springboarding from this gifted set of artists is a compelling mixture of talent further entrenched in the local market, with fresh new talents such as Mario Zoots (quickly extending a global reach on his own), Adan De la Garza, Matthew Harris, and the overlooked Boulder-based sensation Roger Reutimann, sculptor extraordinaire who has unbelievably never yet exhibited his work in Denver. Finally, Christopher R. Perez, another somewhat under-exposed artist, at least in the gallery context, adds supreme depth to the terms super and human through an expansive portfolio of photography that captures key figures from the local art scene.
National discoveries have been made through deep searches over the course of the year, leading to a rich pool of talent incorporated into the mix including Craig Cleveland (Utah), David Cook (California), John Harlan Norris (Arkansas), Aimee Santos (California), Gregg Segal (California), Michael Ryan (New York), Megan Burns (New York) as well as Jenny Morgan’s frequent collaborator and muse David Mramor (New York). The Canadian contemporary scene has always been of interest within Plus Gallery, and “Super Human” incorporates a handful of new talents from up North including Keita Morimoto (Toronto, Ontario), Liza Lacroix (Toronto, Ontario), Matthew Gardiner (Winnipeg, Manitoba) and Lauren Pelc McArthur (Toronto, Ontario) as well as world famous new-media artist Jeremy Bailey (Toronto, Ontario), both who have contributed work to Plus Gallery owner Ivar Zeile’s Denver Digerati project. Finally, two additional international artists add great texture to the exhibition with their distinct contributions: the multi-talented Juan Pablo Echeverri (Colombia) and Jules Julien (Netherlands), two of the most singular artists working in the world today.
Animated GIF by Jules Julien, corresponding to his exhibition piece “Blue Series No.3″