For more information regarding the available artworks or any other questions, please contact gallery director Nick Majoor-Arie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In conjunction with the exhibition Changez! Art Brussels in Amsterdam, Galerie Ron Mandos presents several exclusive online viewing rooms that reveal the most recent artworks of seven artists. The present online exhibition, entitled Lost and Found, shows a new collection of works by Anthony Goicolea, encompassing three distinct mediums that overlap each other with self-referential visual imagery. Taken together as one larger narrative or read as individual discrete works, the overriding theme is a sense of the sublime mixed with a level of ambiguity that permeates everything. The doubtable nature of the narratives lends itself to interpretations that are simultaneously universal and intensely personal.
Anthony Goicolea (USA, 1971) creates elaborate mise-en-scènes, painstakingly produced for each work, resulting in moody, sinister stages, often depicting characters that interact and create undefined stories. He is most well-known for his work showing young boys engaging in ambiguous activities. Drawing upon familiar narratives and characters of male youth, he taps into the darker, ambiguous underbelly of contemporary life via specific and metaphorical instances of intense, often ritualistic, emotional experience.
Anthony Goicolea has exhibited widely, notably at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, Illinois; the International Center of Photography, New York and Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid. Goicolea’s art is held in many public collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; The Guggenheim Museum of Art, New York, NY; The Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY; Yale University Art Collection, Photography, CT; the Museum of Contemporary Art of Castile and Leon, Spain; 21c Museum, Louisville, KY, the Akzo Nobel Art Foundation, Amsterdam, and Cobra to Contemporary/The Brown Family Collection, among others.
LOST AND FOUND
Lost and Found is a collection of works comprised of drawings, paintings, and photographs that present imagery with a strong allegorical backbone. Goicolea utilizes iconographic imagery from religion, art history, and literature to dissect the futility of rituals, traditions, and rites of passages. A staff, a cane, or the “laying of hands” hints at a familiar story or loaded imagery, but the artist re-contextualizes these representations and infuses action and symbol with a sense of ambiguity. Repetition of gestures and postures link seemingly dissimilar portraits and figures throughout the series, resulting in a compelling, though ominous, narrative.
Pigeon, 2019 | Charcoal on Raw Linen Canvas Hung on top of Acrylic and Graphite Drawing on Frosted Mylar Film | 223,5 x 152,5 cm
Searching, 2019 | Acrylic on Raw Linen Canvas | 61 x 45,5 cm
In many of the works, silhouetted or backlit animals and figures become almost interchangeable, pitted against murky backdrops. The color palate is dark and muted, as though the pigments are steeped in the smoke-stained residue of age. In contrast, many of the images depict illumination by a quasi-bio-luminescent light source, and the greenish glow-in-the-dark tint suggests a voyeuristic surveillance as though the scene is being viewed through night vision goggles or infrared lenses. Throughout the series, the distinct sensation of loneliness and isolation is offset by an emphasis — through gesture, composition, and the artist’s profound ability to portray depth within his subjects — on beauty.
At first glance, the painting Dog looks like a sepia-tinted seascape. The ocean waves and sky have rich burnt tones that presage the coming of a storm. It is only upon closer inspection that you see the barely visible head of a dog afloat in the choppy waves. The dog’s struggle to stay aloft can be seen as a metaphor for our collective existential struggle or as a somewhat playful beach scene rendered in dark tones. It’s these kinds of diametrical opposed interpretations that strike at the heart of the ambiguity that Goicolea tries to evoke in his work. It’s simultaneously heartbreaking and joyful, ominous and beautiful. The painting has further connotations as it is a direct reference to a work by the Spanish painter Goya who famously sunk into madness in the final years of his life.
Dog, 2019 | Acrylic on Raw Linen Canvas | 61 x 45,5 cm
History Painting, 2019 | Ink, Acrylic and Oil Paint on 300LB Hot Press Water Color Paper Mounted to Board | 81,5 x 40,5 cm
The work entitled History Painting also has obvious titular ties to historical precedent as well as visual ones. It has a strong reference to the American painter John Singer Sargent and his painting of Madame Pierre Gautreau, better known as Madame X. For Goicolea’s portrait, the young man shares the same strong profile, aquiline nose and incredibly pale complexion. These allusions play on traditional tropes of gender and beauty. The idea of beauty is further complicated by the fact that women of this period often used small doses of arsenic to achieve a pale alabaster complexion, which has obvious health implications and most likely led to the downfall of Madam Gautreau’s natural beauty in later years at the cost of what was deemed beautiful by society at the time.
Other works like The Doubting of St. Andy, All In, Administration, The Corrections, Forced, and Levitation also have strong art historical references as well as religious ties. The use hands in all of these works alludes to baptismal rites and images of saintly benedictions and blessings. However, they also seem as forceful as they are gentle and can quite often be interpreted with an overriding sexual touch to their poking, prodding, forceful gestures. Again, playing with the kind of dual interpretations that create the ambiguous narratives Goicolea strives for.
Administration, 2019 | Graphite on Mylar Film Mounted to Board | 51 x 40,5 cm
Forced, 2019 | Graphite on Mylar Film Mounted to Board | 61 x 45,5 cm
The drawings and photographs share a layered approach to their craftsmanship. While the photographs are composited and altered digitally, the drawings are layered on sheets of semi-translucent mylar film rendered by hand in an analogue version of the digital process. Drawings like Forced and Fixated appear as simple line drawings on paper when in fact they are drawn from both sides of the paper to give the image a sense of foggy atmosphere and depth.
Line work and shading done on the reverse side of the mylar visually translated into an almost waxy looking surface. Graphite applied to the top layer of the mylar then stands out and contrasts and gives the two-dimensional drawings a sense of 3D depth. While the monochromatic bluish tint of the blue graphite hints at photographic cyanotypes and antiquated architectural blueprints.
Fixated, 2019 | Graphite on Mylar Film Mounted to Board | 61 x 45 cm
Red Ear, 2019 | C-Print Mounted on Di-bond | 53 x 40,5 cm
The photographs in the collection share the same sense of ambiguity and depict a variety of scenes that are at once beautiful and sublime as well as ominous and lonely. All of the photographs are digitally constructed in a way that mimics the layering process implemented in Goicolea’s paintings and works on mylar. The complex photo-editing process can be viewed in the video below.
The photographs are all relatively monochromatic or depicted in a grainy black and white. Black Island for instance or Isole Tremiti is a reference to the small islands off the coast of Italy that were used to exile gay men from society and intern them in isolated prison camps. The photo depicts a somewhat idyllic scene of dark cloths being laundered on a deserted barren island. It could be viewed as everyday washing or as black mourning attire or prison uniforms hanging out to dry. The barely visible lone figure on the island toils in solitude, silhouetted against a cloudless sky.
Black Island, 2019 | C-Print Mounted to Di-bond | 61 x 91,5 cm
Sleep, 2019 | Diasec, archival pigmentprint on Canson Infinity FineArt | 100 x 70,8 cm
In the photograph entitled Sleep we see four male figures lying in bed. Shot from above, we hover right over these resting figures and see them in their most vulnerable moment. The photograph is a heavily manipulated digital composite that was completed during the three months of mandatory quarantine for the Covid-19 pandemic.
The work was originally selected for Unlocked/Reconnected, an initiative by museums and galleries in the Netherlands to celebrate their reopening after three months of mandatory quarantine. Playing with the theme of being stuck at home, Goicolea shows four people lying in bed in an intimate and ambiguous scenario. they are not quite sleeping, and not quite awake. They straddle the line between sleep and death, voyeurism and exhibitionism, intimacy and fear.