Lora Reynolds is pleased to announce personal, political, mysterious, a group exhibition of work by 14 artists—including Robert Gober, Louise Bourgeois, and Nancy Grossman—working in painting, sculpture, drawing, and photography. This is the second iteration of the exhibition, the first of which was on view at the FLAG Art Foundation (New York) in the summer of 2013.
In 2007 Roberta Smith wrote in the New York Times that Robert Gober "stands at the forefront of a generation that emerged in the 1980s and devised new ways to fuse the personal and political, the accessible and the mysterious. His art is a sometimes subtle, sometimes furious protest against what might be called delusions of normalcy; the sexual, racial, and religious prejudices these delusions engender are examined at their point of origin: the childhood home."
Robert Gober's sculptures of familiar objects—sinks, drains, playpens—are all slightly queer: they look right but do not function the way they are supposed to. His sinks have no faucets; his drains—like the one in the untitled photograph in this exhibition—lead nowhere. His cribs and playpens seem less objects of comfort than of isolation and imprisonment. The way Gober grapples with his identity—white, gay, male, American—transcends specificity. In the end, Gober is interested in the difficulties of being human and "other."
Louise Bourgeois's work—the most well-known of which includes sculptures of spiders or sexualized human figures and body parts—is largely autobiographical, inspired by her dysfunctional home life as a child, her experience of motherhood, and her struggles as a female artist in the patriarchal art world. Her work is often emotionally aggressive and deals with rage, fear, frustration, and power.
Eyes—like the one in Bourgeois's piece in this exhibition, HE MURDERS MY EYES—are a recurring motif in her work. They are the source of the gaze, which some feminist theorists argue is inherently sexist. Eyes are the proverbial windows to the soul—windows penetrated by images. HE MURDERS MY EYES is sexually charged, deals with gendered power dynamics, and while the title might refer to her father's blatant philandering, the piece is shrouded in ambiguity.
Nancy Grossman began making leather-wrapped sculptures of heads in the 1960s as a response to the Vietnam War. The black leather masks often covered the heads' eyes, noses, mouths, and ears—blinding, muting, and deafening them—and were stitched together with zippers, straps, and chains associated with BDSM regalia. Grossman refers to her heads as self-portraits, even though they do not physically resemble her. Grossman's piece in this show, Gunhead, is a bronze cast of a head with a pistol strapped to its face. Gunhead raises questions about violence, control, autonomy, and individuality in tumultuous sociopolitical environments.
The 14 artists in personal, political, mysterious have a broad range of interests and concerns. They unite, however, under Roberta Smith's description of Robert Gober as ultimately working to "unlock the mysteries of the human heart."
personal, political, mysterious includes work by Louise Bourgeois, Ben Durham, Richard Forster, Ewan Gibbs, Robert Gober, Nancy Grossman, Carl Hammoud, Jim Hodges, Dashiell Manley, Donald Moffett, Tom Molloy, Frank Selby, Robert Therrien, and Mickalene Thomas.