Paul Brach Lecture Series
Gaylen Gerber’s practice has long been characterized as part of institutional critique and the realist tradition in the arts defined by an attitude of irony and skepticism towards various ideological tenets. Incorporating other artworks and artifacts into its realization, Gerber’s work during the last decade has increasingly focused on a series of Supports in which he’s moved what is normally perceived as the background out of its usual location and into the foreground by literally painting over the supporting artwork and artifact colors that are normally understood as neutral background. The painted surface combined with the original object constitutes the final artwork, called Support. The painted surface’s institutional quality continues to function as a background to everything around it even though the Support now has an individually recognizable form. The result is an inversion of established ideas of art that locates history within a particular context. Artworks and artifacts that are most often seen as records of the past, such as a Lokapala guardian figure from the Tang Dynasty in China or a Coca-Cola contour bottle from 20th century United States are primarily understood in the moment of their perception. The power that artworks and artifacts have to evoke delight, distress, empathy – a range of emotions – is a reflection of their enduring effectiveness and by his reversal of painting’s support and expression, Gerber’s uses the efficacy of these objects as a foundation for representing a clear image of the present.
Gaylen Gerber has exhibited widely including solo and cooperative projects at Kunsthaus Bregenz, Bregenz, Austria; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York; Kunstverein Ruhr, Essen, Germany; Museé d'Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg; The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois; Neues Museum Weserburg Bremen, Bremen, Germany; Kunsthalle Bern, Bern, Switzerland; and the Museé des Beaux-Arts, Dijon, France among others.