ART FROM THE LONE STAR
November 7, 2012 - January 15, 2013
Travelling around Texas today, you wonder if you can see anything other than what simply meets your gaze: a number of more or less ‘quaint’ clichés (cowboys, large cars, vast shopping malls, junk food, corpulent Republicans, luxurious Dallas-style ranches) are associated in our collective imaginary with the very name of the US State that emerges as yet another contemporary legend. Is there a limit to the power of stereotypes? What happens when they prove to be stronger than reality? How can art undermine them without denying their truth?
The “Lone Star” of the USA, as proudly proclaimed on its flag as a symbol of unity and independence for Texans (a Spanish and French colony in the 16th-18th century, then under Mexican rule and an independent Republic from 1836 to 1845), with its semitropical climate, the prairies and deserts on the doorstep of super-modern cities, its Spanish and Mexican roots strongly present in the culture, the food and the language, Texas appears today as the exotic, ‘folk’ lady of rich conservative America. A State which, thanks to the oil boom of the early twentieth century, managed to acquire economic independence, political power and some of the best universities and research centres in the world, but also to create a new “Wild West”...
The exhibition Western Sequels. Art from the Lone Star State relates episodes from the history of this modern "Wild West", both there and here, an allegory for every state that denies the concept of the public and the collective. The forty-five artists in the show, selected so as to present to the Greek public for the first time a selective panorama of contemporary Texan art, use the myths and stereotypes to parody and ultimately subvert the image of this State that exists to consume, declares itself deeply religious but does not hesitate to apply capital punishment, allows the use of guns (under the concept of self-justice), has no particular environmental concerns, persists in individualism and self-reliance... The American popular culture —pop, amateur, anti-modern—and particularly the Texan one, folklore, intellectuality, myths and a recycling of the European modernist tradition are some of the traits of this art. The approximately 80 works in various styles function as stills from a repetitive ‘western’ film, with different actors and variations in the story but always with the same characters and the same setting (western sequels).
A show-within-the-show, the section “Lone Stars, outsider artists in Texas" presents ten artists from the collection of Jay Wehnert, a collector whose Intuitive Eye organisation supports the so-called outsider, self-taught, visionary and folk artists. As he notes in the exhibition catalogue, "Outsider artists are individuals who live and create art outside of the cultural and societal mainstream. They generally have little awareness of, or connection to, the art world or art history. Their artistic efforts are often the result of intensely personal motivations with limited intention that their work will have an audience or find a place in the broader landscape of art."
The participating artists are: Bale Creek Allen, Dan Mitchell Alison, Yousef Balat,Jill Bedgood, Amita Bhatt, Mel Chin, James Drake, Carter Ernst, Kyle Farley, Bill Fitzgibbons, Ryan Geiger, Wayne Gilbert, Ann Harithas, Dan Havel/Dean Ruck, Luis Jimenez, Paul Kittelson, Bill Komodore, Sharon Kopriva, El Franco Lee II, Patrick Medrano/Katy Anderson, Angelbert Mettoyer, Neva Mikulicz, Raul Mitra, Hans Molzberger, b.moody, Sherry Owens, Susan Plum, Basilios Poulos, Michael Roque Collins, Kaneem Smith, The Art Guys, Bryan Wheeler, Jeff Wheeler, Ed Wilson, Bonnie Young, Eddie Arning, Consuelo “Chelo”, Gonzalez Amezcua, Hector Alonso Benevides, Henry Ray Clark, Patrick Davis, Ezekiel Gibbs, Frank Jones, Richard Gordon Kendall, Ike Morgan, Johnnie Swearingen