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Trong Gia Nguyen and Rebecca Reeve at Charles Bank Gallery

Gallery season is here! Tonight, Charles Bank Gallery kicks it off with a group show including our buddies, Trong Gia Nguyen and Rebecca Reeve. After the show make sure to try an all-dressed beer over at Mother’s Ruin, my fave bar in the area.

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Opening night Wednesday September 4, 6-9pm
196 Bowery, New York, NY

#PSEUDOREAL

curated by Eric Cahan

Michael Staniak
Violet Dennison
Adam Parker Smith
Carolyn Salas
Peter Demos
Rebecca Reeve
Trong Gia Nguyen

Charles Bank Gallery is pleased to preset #PseudoReal, a group show curated by New York City native, Eric Cahan. Representing the artist’s personal interest and taste is this expansive collection of works by fellow artists, Michael Staniak, Violet Dennison, Adam Parker Smith, Carolyn Salas, Peter Demos, Rebecca Reeve and Trong Gia Nguyen. #PseudoReal refers to the notion that not everything is what it appears to be. The works in this show are commonly perceived to represent one form but upon closer examination, beyond the surface, they are, in fact, another.

Realism appeared in art just after the 1848 Revolution in France. It did away with Romanticism and the celebration of fantasy and utopia in preference to representing life for what it was – not avoiding poverty, the banal and common. Times were simpler one hundred and eighty years ago, the industrial revolution throwing a spanner into the works of this simplicity. So with new industrial technology and mechanical reproduction burgeoning into the 20th Century, artists began to explore new options of representing life as it was, even if it meant doing away with representation altogether.

Fast-forward to now, a time that is very difficult to define in context of art history. It is a time where art has fired off in all directions, avoiding categorisation and “isms”. Images are not reserved to art production. They are the global language of today. Reality is a marginal idea, with the digital and virtual integrating themselves with “real life” fluidly. So even though people are not yet half machine/half human, our communicative digital devices are now an extension of our own limbs. In essence we are cybernetic organisms. And with digital media – a media that is easily produced, manipulated, forged, faked and distributed – being such an integral part of our reality and of our newly forming image language, how do we define our dual reality and more importantly as artists, how do we currently portray Realism?

The Internet still holds a slight distinction between the real and the virtual, even though our devices and daily needs are beginning to rely more and more on the World Wide Web. “IRL” is a common term thrown around the chat rooms in reference to something being “in real life” as apposed to on the Net. These distinctions are not valid anymore when talking about television, where programs such as reality TV are considered real, even though it may be more scripted, staged and trivial than content elsewhere. The Internet and social media, as it becomes more a trusted and dominant source of information will eventually hold a similar unity between the two realities.

New York based art critic Gene McHugh, in his well-known blog “Post-Internet”, states now that images are mostly disseminated on the web, artists, even though they may have no conceptual interest in the Internet, should be conscious of the Internet when making work. Post-Internet is not a term that describes a time after Internet, but a change in the Internet where potentially everyone is a user, author, critic, creator and distributor. The Internet is not a passive medium where we go to discover dictionary meanings of things uploaded by the few with appropriate technical know-how. Now anyone can upload anything on their Facebook page, share it with friends, like it and criticise or praise it. Art is not immune to this phenomenon. So with this wealth of audience and real/virtual reality, every image that is painted or photographed, any object that is made, will exist, willingly or unwillingly, in two states – the tangible and digital or virtual.

That makes you wonder: is art that I am seeing online actual? Is the image of this pure art object a massive improvement or a terrible misrepresentation? If anything has been learned from television, it’s that what may seem an accurate portrayal of reality through another medium, may indeed be falsified. If it happens in the digital airbrushing of fashion magazines and product catalogues, does art remain immune? It definitely doesn’t.
PSUEDOREAL explores this idea of a falsified reality. It was a term originally coined to describe CGI in cinema, where the visual effect supersedes the believability of what is actually filmed. Psuedorealism is a well-suited idea for a new Realism in art production of the early 21st Century. Faking of a reality to describe our actual reality may be an abstract and complex notion; however portraying an actual representation of our digital age is becoming a more abstract idea in itself. Hence there seems to be a return to abstract form – an aesthetic reminiscent of the first time we as humans ventured into the use of mass media. But when at that time Modernism in art shied away from representing and embracing the reality of mass culture, artists are now using abstraction and a focus on materials and process to understand where we stand as image makers in an age dominated by digital imagery and the Internet.

The work in PSUEDOREAL takes this idea one step further to explore our reality for what it is and for what it isn’t. The choices of colour, materials, shape and subject, all take cues from popular culture as circulated via the Internet. But the objects in this exhibition also exemplify a form that is at once something and on closer inspection something else. With an attention to surface, these works portray an uneasy shift between what you can see and what is, a reminder that our dual reality can be as real or as fraudulent as we want or believe it to be. They share a common bond, maybe driven by a true Post-Internet awareness or just a result of a ubiquitous Internet aesthetic, something shared by many other artworks beyond this exhibition. However, the exhibition PSEUDOREAL acknowledges the fact that what is disseminated on the Internet may be completely different “IRL” and, through clever use of new materials and applications, the works allow you to investigate this idea “IRL” for yourself.

– Michael Staniak

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