HOW TO BE A MAGICIAN IN YOUR SPARE TIME
September 6 - October 25, 2014
The bumper sticker is one of the more curiously American bibelots of self-expression—a market of semaphores perhaps once meaningful, but eventually re-re-re-appropriated into semantic oblivion. Brendan Donnelly’s windshield assemblages cheerily revive and revile the medium through a series of compromised “portraits” that pair store-bought bumper stickers alongside custom decals designed by the artist himself.
With encyclopedic knowledge of suburban folklore and postwar-youth subcultures, Donnelly tinkers cliche’ visual tropes just enough to reveal the extent to which we are inured to these images, extending the playfulness of American trompe l’oeil painting from vision to understanding. In deconstructing these deceptively haphazard compositions, complex narratives emerge that are no less abject for being absolutely hilarious.
The ironic permanence of car decals coupled with the transience of car ownership allow them to depict not lone subjects, but networks of relationships—between co-owners, lovers, families, and each other.
The assemblages are complemented by a series of spare, enigmatic paintings mounted on chain link fence, like banners on public school gates that advertise the charity of local sponsors as well as the paucity of local civic resources. Their structure is redolent of iconic cover designs for Chick Tracts, small evangelical pamphlets created by Jack T. Chick nearly fifty years ago and still published today out of a small press in Ontario; as well as True Komix—the decidedly less orthodox publication created by David Berg (aka Moses David), founder of the The Family International, a religious movement that advocated sex as the ultimate expression of love, which Berg controversially practiced with underaged members of his following. The clean, elegant, black-and-white compositions formally converse with and oppose the other objects in the gallery, though they express a no-less rigorous interest in the detritus of our truncated ideologies and the beautiful sunshine coast where they thrive.
This is Brendan Donnelly’s first solo exhibition with Paul Loya Gallery.