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Painting

Q&A: Quappi Projects


“We have more knowledge than at any time in human history, yet not only do we not seem comforted or buoyed by that knowledge, we have - or some of us have, I suppose - begun to openly reject knowledge, experience and even commonly agreed-upon facts.“ – John Brooks


Artist, John Brooks

Artist, John Brooks

Q&A with John Brooks about Quappi Projects

‘Quappi’ was the nickname of Mathilde von Kaulbach, who was married to German New Objectivist painter Max Beckmann (1884-1950). It was derived from the similarity of her surname to the German word Kaulquappe, meaning ‘tadpole’.

It is a singular phrase with no other formal meaning, which seems to delight Louisville artist John Brooks, and so he chose it as the moniker of his new exhibition initiative, Quappi Projects. Occupying most of his current studio space at 1520 B Lytle Street in the Portland neighborhood, the mission is to showcase four artists each year from in and outside of Louisville. The inaugural show will be work of Adam Chuck, a Cleveland, Ohio native, now living and making work in Brooklyn, New York.

What motivated you to devote some of your studio space to exhibition space for other artists?

"Diogo In Pink" by Adam Chuck, 5x7in, oil on mylar

"Diogo In Pink" by Adam Chuck, 5x7in, oil on mylar

Running a gallery is an endeavor I've long been interested in, but it was difficult to imagine a way in which I could maintain a studio practice, run a gallery, and afford to do both. I was between studios in 2015 and spent the summer in Berlin. Part of that time was spent studying under the German artist Norbert Bisky, whose work I've admired for a long time.  We discussed a lot of things, including lamenting the difficulty of finding avenues to show and share work. He advised that I (or anyone!) should just "start my own thing;" so I've had this bee in my bonnet for a couple of years. Since January 2016 I've shared my Lytle Street studio space with another artist, and when he decided to move out I knew that this was my opportunity. The space is perfect - clean, bright, white, and with enough room to allow me to continue my studio practice and to exhibit others' work in a proper way.

As an artist, I know how difficult it can be to find arenas in which to show your work, and I am thrilled by the idea that I can provide that opportunity to other artists. Also, I've been fortunate to live in both London and Chicago, and have traveled the United States and Europe fairly extensively, so I feel like I have a broad range of art-related experiences and knowledge that I can rely on to help inform the direction of the gallery's platform.

"Baptism" by Adam Chuck, 4x7.35in, oil on mylar

"Baptism" by Adam Chuck, 4x7.35in, oil on mylar

How did you become aware of Adam Chuck's work?

"Hand Palm" by Adam Chuckn, 5.5x7in, oil on mylar

"Hand Palm" by Adam Chuckn, 5.5x7in, oil on mylar

Adam Chuck paints primarily images from social media; fittingly, we "met" quite randomly through Instagram a few years ago. Though we've never yet met in person, we have developed what I consider to be a real friendship, which speaks both to the power and possibilities of social media but also the power and purity of his work. When it became clear that Quappi Projects was really going to happen, I knew I wanted to inaugurate the gallery with a show of Adam's work and happily he said yes. I'm a fan (and a collector) of his work and am so excited to be able to share it with the Louisville art community and the city at large. At first glance, Adam's work might seem to border on the salacious, but I think it creeps up to that line and then walks back. Most of the work is tiny, phone-screen-sized, owing its existence to social media platforms such as Instagram. The work is intimate, sensual and extremely honest. Each work is an exposure, really; it is essentially about reaching out, about the deep desire to connect, and represents an attempt to know and be known. In an age of terror and big fears, Adam's work seems infused with knowledge of those fears, but speaks more to the fundamental needs and basic human fears of need: to be desired, to be loved, to be seen, to be considered.

Tell me about the term "quappi"? I know the Beckman story, but what does it mean to you?

I believe very much in the transformative power of art. I have experienced this enough times in my own life to understand and value its merit, and I firmly believe that the highest function of art is to allow human beings to know ourselves more deeply. My own work has been concerned with the emotional resonance of particular experiences and what Max Beckmann described as "the deepest feeling about the mystery of being." Quappi Projects' goal is to exhibit contemporary art reflecting the zeitgeist, and the zeitgeist is mighty strange. Perhaps all times are strange, but I don't think there's any arguing that we are living in very strange times.

"Bildnis Quappi" by Max Beckmann

"Bildnis Quappi" by Max Beckmann

We have more knowledge than at any time in human history, yet not only do we not seem comforted or buoyed by that knowledge, we have - or some of us have, I suppose - begun to openly reject knowledge, experience and even commonly agreed-upon facts. I find that very worrying. I think the experiences of 20th Century German artists like Max Beckmann (and others) are relevant to us today.  Beckmann didn't consider himself a political person, yet his entire life was thrown into upheaval because of politics. He considered political concerns to be secondary to the concerns of the spiritual or metaphysical. Although I am a political person (and have a BA in Political Science) I agree with him and certainly find most explicitly political work too narrowly focused. At the same time, I think the best art reflects the times in which it was created, so it must have some element of the political. Take Velazquez' "Las Meninas," for example - artistically, it is a masterpiece, but it also tells us so much about the Spanish Court and what was going on at the time. I find that balance fascinating, and hopefully we can show work that is interesting in the same way. Even if we fall just a little short of "Las Meninas," we'll be very successful!

I plan to alternate non-Louisville-based and Louisville-based artists have a great series of artists lined up: Baghdad, Iraq-born artist Vian Sora, who now lives and works in Louisville; Louisville native Whit Forrester, who lives in Chicago and just graduated with an MFA from Columbia College; wood artisan Michael James Moran, a central Kentucky native who now lives and works in the Hudson Valley; and photographer Ryan Tassi.

"Raven Wings" by Adam Chuck, 5.5x7.25in, oil on mylar

"Raven Wings" by Adam Chuck, 5.5x7.25in, oil on mylar

Beckmann credited Quappi with keeping him going, keeping him on task and inspired. I think we're living in times when we must keep going, be on task, and be inspired. It's very easy to want to give into the notion of being quiet and comfortable, but I think we must resist that. We must be open, communicate, and connect. I'm hoping the spirit of Quappi can help me do that.

Adam Chuck / Instant Gratification

August 18 – September 29
Opening: Friday, August 18 / 5:00-9:00pm

Quappi Projects
1520 B Lytle Street
Gallery open by appointment only
www.quappiprojects.com

"Portrait of Les" by Adam Chuckn, 3.25x4in, oil on mylar

"Portrait of Les" by Adam Chuckn, 3.25x4in, oil on mylar

Entire contents copyright © 2017 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

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Painting

Vignette: John Brooks

A photograph of John Brooks in his studio.

A photograph of John Brooks in his studio.

"All Of A Sudden You Made Him Laugh" by John Brooks, 20x24in, oil on board (2016), $800   |  BUY NOW

"All Of A Sudden You Made Him Laugh" by John Brooks, 20x24in, oil on board (2016), $800 BUY NOW

If you approach John Brooks’ with no foreknowledge of him or his work, his paintings may strike you as primitive, or an example of ‘folk art’. We might begin by acknowledging the limitations of visual art nomenclature, which often seems designed to pigeonhole an artist; semantics aside, that reading becomes fascinating when one hears Brooks speak about his work in such thoughtful and intellectual terms. In his artist’s statement he tells us: “Regardless of subject matter or media, within each work is contained its own emotionally charged atmosphere and each work seems to have both specific and nebulous meaning.”

Earlier this year, Brooks moved into a new studio space in the Portland Neighborhood, and he thought he would use the change of space to move his work in a slightly different direction. “I've been collecting overheard phrases for years and have used them in my writing but have never previously used them in my visual work. This work is a real departure for me - it's abstract but also features the concreteness of text. But what I like about the phrases is the ambiguity they take on because they have no context.  Some harmless phrases, like "Mommy Has It," even take on an air of the sinister.” 

"Untitled #1" by John Brooks, 30x40in, oil on board (2016), $1800 |  BUY NOW

"Untitled #1" by John Brooks, 30x40in, oil on board (2016), $1800 | BUY NOW

Yet Brooks found himself turning back to more familiar ground. “Thinking about the sinister and multi-dimensional meaning in that series of text-based paintings led me to return to my previous subject matter - faces - but with an eye on the mood of uncertainty that's seemingly overtaken the world, at least here in the US. This is a series still very much in progress, but they are about the zeitgeist, all that's happening in 2016: the fear of terror, the fear of unknown, the fear of ‘the other’.” Brooks certainly does see the new work as undeniably political, but he also believes they have an individual identity of their own; both personal and universal.

Brooks is a Kentucky native. He studied Political Science and English literature at the College of Charleston, in South Carolina, and art at Central St. Martins and the Hampstead School of Art in London, England. His work is held in private collections in the United States, Great Britain, Australia, Germany, and India. Brooks has exhibited extensively in the United Kingdom and Europe, as well as Art Chicago. He moved back to Louisville, KY after several years in Chicago, Illinois. His last solo exhibition in Louisville, It Is So Beautiful Here, was at Swanson Contemporary in May 2015.

Hometown: Frankfort, KY
Age: 38
Education: BA in Political Science, College of Charleston; Studied art in England at Central St. Martins College of Art and Design, the Hampstead School of Art and the Camden Art Centre
Website: http://www.johnedwardbrooks.com

"Untitled #2" by John Brooks,  24x36in , oil on board (2016), CFP |  BUY NOW

"Untitled #2" by John Brooks, 24x36in, oil on board (2016), CFP | BUY NOW

"Untitled #3" by John Brooks, 30x40in, oil on board (2016), $1800 |  BUY NOW

"Untitled #3" by John Brooks, 30x40in, oil on board (2016), $1800 | BUY NOW

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Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2016 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

Please contact    josh@louisvillevisualart.org    for further information on advertising through Artebella.

Please contact josh@louisvillevisualart.org for further information on advertising through Artebella.

Painting

Vignette: Joyce Garner

"Cellist" by Joyce Garner, 6x18ft, oil on canvas (2014), $22,000 |  BUY NOW

"Cellist" by Joyce Garner, 6x18ft, oil on canvas (2014), $22,000 | BUY NOW

Garner in her studio with a blank canvas.

Garner in her studio with a blank canvas.

Joyce Garner is a self-taught painter and native Kentuckian who paints large. Her Big Paintings come from her ongoing series of “table paintings”, wall-sized compositions, “…telling the complications of family through time,” says Garner. “They are filled with hopes, regrets and wishes—from the past, and for the future.” 

The artist likens these paintings to novels, the visual equivalent of long-form literary narratives comprised of many smaller stories. Patience is rewarded with this work - allowing your mind to slowly explore the people and the interactions. You might imagine you can hear the words being spoken, some of them in the heat of anger, some barely discernible whispers that you must strain to comprehend. These are, after all, whether by blood or association, families, and families are where we find the deepest currents of human emotion.

“My biggest paintings, shown un-stretched, began with frustration from working with smaller canvases. I got tired of banging around all the panels. Canvas comes in a roll or bolt. Different widths are available but a standard length is 6 yards. So I decided to paint the bolt.” 

"Chopsticks" by Joyce Garner, 60x48in, oil on canvas (2016), NFS

"Chopsticks" by Joyce Garner, 60x48in, oil on canvas (2016), NFS

Garner also owns a gallery in Louisville, Kentucky in the NuLu neighborhood: garner narrative contemporary fine art, and is also represented by galleries in Georgia, Ohio, and Tennessee. Her works have been exhibited in various galleries across the country and internationally. In June of 2016 her 29 foot-long mural, "catch a falling star," was installed in the UK Chandler Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky.

Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Education: University of Kentucky, B.S., 1968
Website: tablepaintings.com
Gallery Representation: garner narrative contemporary (Louisville)

"Joyce Garner in her studio" Photo by Sarah Katherine Davis For LVA (2016)

"Joyce Garner in her studio" Photo by Sarah Katherine Davis For LVA (2016)

"Power Outage" by Joyce Garner, 48x60in, oil on canvas   (2016), $4500 |  BUY NOW

"Power Outage" by Joyce Garner, 48x60in, oil on canvas (2016), $4500 | BUY NOW

"Rickrack" by Joyce Garner, 48x60in, oil on canvas   (2016), $4500 |  BUY NOW

"Rickrack" by Joyce Garner, 48x60in, oil on canvas (2016), $4500 | BUY NOW

"Testing The Waters" by Joyce Garner, 48x60in, oil on canvas   (2016), $4500 |  BUY NOW

"Testing The Waters" by Joyce Garner, 48x60in, oil on canvas (2016), $4500 | BUY NOW

"Wallpaper" by Joyce Garner, 48x60in, oil on canvas   (2016), $4500 |  BUY NOW

"Wallpaper" by Joyce Garner, 48x60in, oil on canvas (2016), $4500 | BUY NOW

Are you interested in being on Artebella? Click here to learn more.

Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2016 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

Please contact    josh@louisvillevisualart.org    for further information on advertising through Artebella.

Please contact josh@louisvillevisualart.org for further information on advertising through Artebella.