Gideon Bok: re: stacks

March 2 - March 27, 2010

steven harvey fine art projects presents its first exhibition by Gideon Bok entitled Re: Stacks at Gallery Schlesinger. The exhibition will be a select installation of one major large scale painting, along with one small painting. The major work takes its title from the last song on Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago.

Gideon Bok was born in 1966. He lives and works in Maine. He received his master’s degree from Yale University and his B.A. from Hampshire College.

Since graduating from Yale in the mid-1990s Bok has become known for painterly images of the different studio spaces he has occupied and the stuff they contain. His paintings relate to the extreme paint handling of Frank Auerbach and the personal inventiveness of contemporary painters such as Dana Schutz.

Re: Stacks describes his cavernous studio, a former ballroom in Rockland, Maine. New York Times critic Martha Schwendener wrote, “The Rockland studio is a painter’s vision of heaven, with a high, beamed ceiling, multiple walls of windows and acres of space. Guitars, amplifiers and LP covers litter the studio floors…”

In Re: Stacks the elaborate ceiling sits like a crown over a necklace of windows glowing red brick in late afternoon sun. Below is the work area of primary colored couches and all the tools and toys of Bok’s practice. Bok’s work of the last decade depicts his studio spaces and is characterized by complex, disorienting spatial arrangements, the result of working from perception on a large scale, which we find in this recent painting as well. The cathedral ceiling overwhelms the majority of the canvas and the perspective of the room is bowed while still conveying the feeling of the space.

However, in this painting, unlike the earlier work, figures are not present. The studio is filled, but with garlic scapes, furniture of primary colors, beer bottles, a drum kit, lamps, a computer, and amplifiers. However, the lack of young people lounging here seems to signify a shift – this space is a sanctuary more than a commune. Like the Bon Iver song from which he takes the painting’s title, the painting is about solitary epiphany and self-trust. It is bathed in light and the loose, drip, paint aesthetic gives it an overall aura and drama. It is both intimist and monumental, both subtly evocative and overwhelming.

Bok appropriates the title, but the work also bears an aesthetic and feeling related to Bon Iver’s music. Bok is also a musician, and uses the distinct reminders of depicted musical objects to remind of us of the connections between painting and music. In this association he picks up a thread exemplified in the work of Basquiat and Capt. Beefheart/Don Van Vliet. He is the recipient of a 2004 John Simon Guggenheim award. In 2005 he received the Hassam, Speicher, Betts, and Symons Fund Purchase Award through The American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2005 his work was surveyed in an exhibition at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Rockport, ME titled Guardrailing.