Sunday, September 15, 2013

No Dead Artists 2013 at Jonathan Ferrara

Now in its 17th year, the annual No Dead Artists show at the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery once again gives us a lot to think about. Inaugurated in 1995 for the purpose of providing an alternative open platform for artists who would prefer to be better known in their own lifetime, NDA has over the years become something of an uncanny indicator of the prevailing mood of the creative unconscious, a sampling of fresh perspectives from underexposed talents who occasionally go on to make a name for themselves with work placed in important public or private collections.  This year's exhibition attracted approximately 2500 artworks submitted by over 500 artists, of which some 72 works by twenty-four artists from around the country were selected by jurors Lawrence Benenson, who serves on the boards of the Museum of Modern Art, the American Folk Art Museum and the Museum for African Art; Megan Koza Young, the Director of the Dishman Art Museum, and Jordana Zeldin, the Director and Curator at ArtBridge.

The Quaker by Eugene Campbell

Their 72 selections are an eclectic lot to say the least, yet if the diversity can seem a little startling at first glance, the show as whole is held together by some pervasive common threads of introspection and invention,  and perhaps an incipient sense of new beginnings, as if the entire question of what constitutes visual art in the 21st century were a riddle still in the process of being unravelled. 

The City Suburb in the Dark by Wenxin Zhang
And this is probably as it should be. In an age when many of the world's most highly touted artists are increasingly perceived as the pet poodles of the one percent, and when once promising big names like Jeff Koons, Richard Prince and Damien Hirst are today seen as little more than toy makers for the established Wall Street and London financial elites, it may well be time to return to the basics of what makes art magical or, at least, meaningful. Considering that we are emerging from a time when critical theory had morphed into just another marketing ploy, and too many programmatic prefab concepts had made too much art too tediously predictable, perhaps the most refreshing thing about this years' NDA expo is its pervasive sense of artists going their own way, unswayed by the prevailing isms of the recent past. By taking pluralism to a new level, the show itself becomes like an enigmatic installation in its own right, one that each viewer must use her or his own intuition to decipher. Click for More>>