I recently created four videos for Boys Don’t Cry, presented Baang + Burne Contemporary. Boys Don’t Cry is a three person show featuring the works of Joseph Cultice, Chris Jehly and Rich Tu. These three artists stemming from different disciplines, working in different mediums, come together in Boys Don’t Cry. Finding a pathway to express their desires, fears, and unanswerable questions poignantly through their work are what each artist has in common. By utilizing personal demons stuck within, each unfolds the inner workings of their psyche earnestly, explosively, sarcastically, violently and with hope.
Boys Don’t Cry: Opening Night
Rich Tu: There Will Be No Survivors
In comparison to Cultice and Jehly, Rich Tu’s massive minimalist drawings are a new beast, a contradiction in itself. The simple drawings stand up and declare a singular message from an exceptionally large stage (some measuring up to 50×50″), with equal part wit and macabre innocence. From the series There Will Be No Survivors, the viewers are confronted with a dark humor sliver lined with a toy solider delight. Irony is easy to deliver. To discover substance and vulnerability beneath repartee is a rarer find. Contrary to the trending aesthetic of contemporary art, which is often filled with saturated colors, bling, shine and excessive glamour, Rich’s work strips away the “pop” sensibility and offers up an elegant, black and white, naked, quiet scream.
Drawing from cartoons and comic books circa 1930’s and 40’s, Chris Jehly’s large scale paintings use comic illustrations and cartoons to explore how one “can mask, distort, vilify, and amplify the perception of everyday life.” Many of the cartoon characters express elements of racism, misogyny, sexual innuendos, and drug use. The characters bring into focus the politics and social codes of the period, rendering them comical by exaggeration. Jehly uses these references and applies them to his own work with a deft hand, side-stepping the realm of appropriation and social commentary. Without using any pencil sketching as a guide, Jehly goes straight to the canvas with paint, bringing an element of surprise, spontaneity and fluidity to what appears to be highly controlled and calculated work. Extracting the sense of impromptu from his early street art roots, Jehly doesn’t dictate the orientation of the canvas. There is no up or down, north or south; he continuously turns the canvas as he works, approaching the piece from different angles, thus keeping the graffiti element of surprise intact.
Joseph Cultice: The Garden
Joseph Cultice is a photographer with a prestigious career of high gloss, superstars and cultural icons. He spends his days attempting to chip away at the façade to reveal a fraction of the real story underneath the persona, to construct the idea that “pop is personal.” Boys Don’t Cry includes luscious images from the series, The Garden, a photographic series that questions our contradicting desires for limitless debauchery and domestic bliss in equal measure. Our incongruous desires are rendered with Lynchian surrealism into a messy domestic life interspersed with seemingly wild liberation. Is the nuclear family still a relevant dream for contemporary society? The intricacies in the intimacy of the family scenes are all the more poignant once we understand the “models” are his own family and himself.
Boys Don’t Cry pairs three of Baang + Burne’s newest artists for an unexpected show, working with and against each other, to unmask the volatility of contracting desires we hold within.
Oct 4 – Nov 8
Gallery Hours Wed – Sun, 12-6pm
548 W 28th St #238, btw 10/11th st, NYC