David Nolan Gallery is pleased to present Wars, an exhibition of work spanning over a century by several generations of artists, including works by Sue Coe, Steve DiBenedetto, Nicole Eisenman, Ian Hamilton Finlay, George Grosz, Antonius Höckelmann, Sanya Kantarovsky, Roberto Matta, Jonathan Meese, Ludwig Meidner, Wardell Milan, Ebecho Muslimova, Peter Saul, and others. Centering around a 1940 painting by George Grosz – entitled Self-Portrait with Bird of Prey and Rat – the exhibition explores various representations of warfare, conflict, and self-expression. Taking Grosz and his artistic legacy as a conceptual starting point, artists who today continue his line of enquiry, such as Sanya Kantarovsky and Ebecho Muslimova, have created new works for the exhibition. At the same time, works by major established artists such as Roberto Matta and Peter Saul are presented as extensions of Grosz’s radically original outlook.
Painted during the outset of the Second World War, Self-Portrait with Bird of Prey and Rat is an unusual self-portrait. Unlike many of Grosz’s other portraits which show the artist in his studio, this work combines an unconventional array of props: a bird carrying a dead rat in its beak flies past the painter while a black spider crawls towards him. The blue sky behind Grosz appears to suggest optimism, as does his wry expression looking out to the viewer. Conversely, the darkening sky suggests a thunderstorm might break loose at any moment.
Addressing a similar historical moment, but from a vantage point of over 60 years after the fact, Peter Saul’s 2007 painting Stalin in 1943 refers to the Communist dictator’s agreement with the British and Americans to open a new offensive against Nazi Germany. In a wildly caricatured style, owing much to Grosz, Saul portrays a volcanic blaze in the background as bullets fly in every direction.
Artists Featured: Sue Coe, Steve DiBenedetto, Nicole Eisenman, Ian Hamilton Finlay
George Grosz, Antonius Höckelmann, Sanya Kantarovsky, Roberto Matta,
Jonathan Meese, Ludwig Meidner, Wardell Milan, Ebecho Muslimova, Peter Saul