The Searchers

Main Gallery, September 16- November 6, 1999

Artist's Talk: October 9, 4pm

Curated by Robert Longo

"...Ain't got no eyes, can't enter the spirit land, has to wander forever between the winds."--

John Wayne in The Searchers

A Brief History

About a year ago Troy Brauntaugh and Jon Kessler introduced me to a few young artists whose work I was not familiar with. Out of this group I first became acquainted with the work of Eric Schnell. My initial reaction to his work was one of the primary reasons that I became involved in curating this exhibition.

Explanation

Seeing Schnell's work for the first time caused an immediate short-circuiting of my usual and perhaps jaded way of reading work not known to me. I would normally scan a work looking for categories, influences, styles, rip-offs, etc. But what happened when I was confronted by his work, it caused a breakdown of these viewing tools that I had in place to experience unfamiliar works. It simply made me realize I did not understand it, but at the same time I was experiencing "it" for "itself."

This was extremely exciting to me. The freshness of this experience made me want more of it. So I began looking for other new works of this kind that I found so baffling and seduction.

Results

As the show came together I have become more acquainted with this work and the artists in this exhibition. For what it's worth I can offer up to you some brief descriptions of how I see it. Eric Schnell is a cowboy witch doctor, casting spells with Freud and rats. Colin Hunt has the feel of a precision shop Unabomber-Leonardo da Vinci on acid. Sue de Beer's work comes on like a screaming self-made Lizzie Borden. Khanh Vo is from another planet altogether. Jeff Turek: he's just happy to be alive and he proves it with each drawing. Allison Smith builds personal psycho science/history dramas. Adam Putnam is the man under the floor, in the air, in the walls, etc. Alex Ku: an astronaut on a space walk without a safety cord, and Michelle Elzay who simply makes the most sublimely quiet pictures.

I realize that this is a very diverse group of young artists and that the threads that bind them together are in places very thin, but for this exhibition they are a group, they are "The Searchers" and as you will see they are searching for something. I would like to thank Artists Space, Claudia Gould and Jenelle Porter, for letting me run free and trust my gut reactions to why I wanted to do this exhibition. And of course I want to thank these artists for this awakening and for my aesthetic surgery.

-Robert Longo