Simone Subal Gallery

Very Long Fingers

Featuring: Julien Bismuth, Tomasz Kowalski, and Autumn Ramsey

November 1 – December 20, 2015
Opening Sunday, November 1, 6-8PM

Very Long Fingers is a three-person exhibition that features Julien Bismuth, Tomasz Kowalski, and Autumn Ramsey. The figure is central to this exhibition. In Bismuth’s absurdist videos, a spectrum of makeup is applied to an actress; and two clowns play with each other’s traditional maquillage. With each variation in appearance, the rules of representation are reset; the figure devolves into a system, which is continually improvised. Kowalski’s characters – bent into an ampersand, poised to be bisected by a clapperboard, or filled with ecstatic psychedelia and blood-and-guts – are similarly threatened by dreamlike distortions, hilariously beleaguered by instruments of language, film, or the ink and gouache with which they were made. Ramsey’s work, which often depicts anthropomorphic creatures, plays with logic and nonsense. Seemingly innocuous, sometimes ridiculous, her work belongs to the carnal. Her images, by turns erotic and cerebral, are supported and subverted by a playfulness of form.

The figure fluctuates in Very Long Fingers. It appears in all three artists’ work, like it has appeared and appeared again, as the subject of its epoch, an actor in its slapstick, the site of its politics, and ever malleable to the demands and wishes of its handler. History has registered doubt, humor, and uncertainty, pathos, politics, and tragedy through the figure – it never disappeared from sight. It is perhaps for this reason, however, that the figure belongs more to folklore than to history: in the moment when our pictures are most clear, we admit of the irresolvable mystery built into our dominant systems of representation. In Very Long Fingers, the figure has attracted many identities: a cautious bird, a gaunt writer, an innocently exposed cat, a discombobulated Cyclops, or a pathetic clown. Animals, artists, and the fool – what humane metaphors for the otherness of inquiry and autobiography. Very Long Fingers arouses a dilemma; intellectual, erotic, absurd, and historic, about language, about allegories, about things funny, old, and beautiful.

Julien Bismuth (b. 1973) works and lives in New York. Selected solo exhibitions: La Ferme Du Buisson, Noisiel, France; the Gesellschaft für aktuelle Kunst Bremen, Germany; Emanuel Layr Galerie, Vienna, Austria; The Box, Los Angeles, CA; Crac Alsace, Altkirch, France; Bloomberg Space, London, England; Parisa Kind Galerie, Frankfurt, Germany and Galerie Georges-Philippe & Nathalie Vallois, Paris, France. Selected group exhibitions and perfomances: Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France; Musée du Jeu de Paume, Paris, France; Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria; ICA Philadelphia; 12e Prix Fondation d’entreprise Ricard, Paris, France; Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, Germany; Villa Arson, Nice, France; Orange County Museum, Newport Beach, CA; MUSAC, Leon, Spain; Tate Modern London, England; and Museo Marino Marini, Florence, Italy.

Tomasz Kowalski (b. 1984) lives and works in Warsaw, Poland. Selected solo exhibitions include: CAM, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, MO; Galeria Dawid Radziszewski, Warsaw, Poland; Carlier | Gebauer, Berlin; Tim van Laere Gallery, Antwerp, Belgium; Gabriele Senn Galerie, Wien, Austria; and Kuenstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin. Selected group exhibitions include: Kunsthalle Bratislava, Slovakia; La Kunsthalle Mulhouse, Moulhouse, France; Museum of Modern Art Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland; Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria; De Appel, Amsterdam, Netherlands; MUMOK – Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna, Austria; Sammlung Olbricht, Germany; Raster, Warsaw, Poland; Ursula Blickle Foundation, Germany.

Autumn Ramsey (b. 1976) lives and works in Chicago, Illinois. Solo and group exhibitions include: Night Club, Chicago, IL; Bodega, New York, NY; What Pipeline, Detroit, MI; Autumn Space, Chicago, IL; Actual Size, Los Angeles, CA; Julius Caesar, Chicago, IL; The Green Gallery, Milwaukee, WI; Southfirst Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; and Rowley Kennerk Gallery, Chicago, IL.