Gideon Bok: record store

September 7 - October 8, 2011

Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects presents an installation of new paintings by Gideon Bok entitled Record Store. This is the first exhibition at SHFAP’s new location in the Lower East Side, at 208 Forsyth Street. The exhibition includes more than one hundred of Bok’s “LP still life paintings”: 12 5/8 x 12 5/8 inch oil paintings of record album covers.

Concurrently with Record Store SHFAP will also present a smaller exhibition of Bok’s record paintings upstairs at at the bar 2A, 25 Avenue A. This exhibition, entitled andywarholbobdylandavidbowie1971, will open on Sept 7th at 9pm, with dj Delphine Blue (of WBAI and East Village Radio.) 2A is open 7 days from 4pm to 4AM.

Bok (b. 1966) lives and works in Rockland, Maine, and received his MFA from Yale University and his BA from Hampshire College. 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. Many of his interiors include musical referents—instruments, musicians, record players and albums, sometimes ghosted out— indicating layers of activity, past and present, around the studio.

However, in these paintings, the record cover itself takes center stage. The paintings are executed in oil on MDF panels. Bok paints from the album covers, which are set on the floor, a waist-high table, or occasionally an easel, while he listens to the record. The series was informed by Bok’s reading of Erwin Panofsky and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and their theories about perspective and phenomenology. He was also interested in Sylvia Plimack Mangold’s trompe-l’oeil paintings of rulers set on floorboards. In rendering these album covers from life, Bok employs a loose painterly shorthand, in turns awkward and virtuosic, to deftly render the smoothly printed, famliar, images.

By taking the record album—a two-dimensional designed object (itself a picture plane)—and depicting it in perspective, a trapezoid in space, Bok questions our assumptions about the subjective and objective process of seeing and knowing. What do we really see, how does the image change with this tilting of the picture plane, and how does our previous knowledge interact with a pure perceptual process? “Perspective,” here, implies not just spatial depiction, but the viewers’ various frames of reference and knowledge of the music. Some albums will be immediately recognizable, others obscure. Bok’s selection is an eclectic personal mixtape of his musical sensibility from the complete works of Bob Dylan to Sparklehorse, from Company Flow to Liz Phair, from George Clinton to Elliott Smith.

Bok was fascinated by the process of selecting and sequencing which albums to paint: moving through musical relationships and various color keys. (Some records he already owned, others were purchased on Ebay or at used record shops). The installation will reflect the chronological order in which they were painted, and Bok is interested in how the viewers’ perspective might shift as we move from record to record. The paintings will be installed in multiple rows on the walls, echoing the displays of small LES record shops such as Gimme Gimme, Sound Library or A1, past and present meccas for collectors of rare vinyl.

Gideon Bok was 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. Bok has been an influential teacher as Hampshire College, The Yale Summer program at Norfolk and other institutions. This is his second exhibition with Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects.