Bushwick, Brooklyn, NYC
This past Sunday, I had the pleasure of attending the closing brunch for the inaugural show of newly formed exhibition trio Same Same But Different, at Parallel Art Space, located at 17-17 Troutman in Bushwick, the charming building pictured below.
The exhibiting trio is composed of Artsicle artists Amanda Valdez and Jay Gaskill, and Fabian Tabibian. The group's name derives from the vernacular of Southeast Asian street merchants trying to prove any semblance of differentiation in their wares. I can only imagine they are flexing the same marketing muscles witnessed daily on Canal Street by shouting what amounts to "SAME SAME BUT DIFFERENT" at harried prospective clients.
When applied to this emerging supergroup, the name has a different effect, acknowledging formalistic affinities, purposeful colors, bold shapes, and fundamental idiomatic divergences. All three artists received their MFAs from Hunter College, where Fabian was a year above Amanda and Jay. Their work culminated in a Winter 2011 thesis show, which, coincidentally was the first show I attended upon joining Artsicle.
Amanda Valdez first captured my attention almost a year ago with her effective use of multiple media to create simple, yet provocative forms. She thoughtfully creates sewn, embroidered, and painted surfaces that appear effortless, elegant, and elusive despite their tedious and careful construction - see above on the right. In her most recent works, her signature forms are translated to paper with impressive effect (below on the left).
Jay Gaskill works entirely by hand to create iconic forms, originating from the controlled pen drawings I saw in piles around his studio a few weeks ago. The translation from what is ostensibly a scribble to a finished canvas is stunning. Though Gaskill's work bears the modern mark of pop art and graphic design, his dedication to handcrafting bold and elegant hard-edged shapes demands an appreciation of the artist as craftsman in an age of mass mechanical reproduction (above on the right, below on the right).
Fabian Tabibian's work tackles the Zeitgeist of the capital-I Internet and the digital age with impressive resolve. I will admit that I was initially skeptical of the inclusion of digital art in this group, which I understand makes me sound like an old man. I was impressed by Tabibian's innate sense of color and the restraint he employs in allowing the simplicity of his digitally derived work to stand alone. Some of his subject matter includes digitally manipulated favicons, which are the little icons that show up to the left of the "http:" in your browser - now we can feel old. Ultimately, Tabibian's work was an impressive addition to the group, certainly underscoring the "but different" aspect, while complimenting the overall experience of the well curated show.