Back to the Future, Think Tank Gallery
March 11, 2011
The second episode, Reviving Ambitions, documents the group exhibition Back to the Future held at Think Tank Gallery. The exhibition featured paintings by a varied selection of artists from across the greater Los Angeles area: Theodora Allen, Beatrice Poon, Abel Gutierrez, John Kilduff, Antone Könst, Ryan McGuffin, and Tomas Mickiewicz Seidita. It aimed to present painting as a viable, critical medium who’s constant struggle with the notion of “painting is dead” still pertains to the contemporary art world more so than ever before, yet it, nevertheless, lives on. The show sought to create a cohesive forum for a new dialogue between emerging contemporary painters.
A few months ago, curators Seidita and McGuffin, who recently graduated from Cal Arts, decided they wanted to put on a studio exhibition devoted entirely to painting’s constant struggle as a medium in a post-medium epoch. Similar in their attempt to revitalize the medium, both practicing artists had moments of falling out and later resumption within their own art practice: Seidita took a long break from painting while enrolled at Cal Arts and McGuffin nearly stopped making art altogether but was fortunately impelled to attend Otis by his generous parents. Likewise, Reviving Ambitions, embodies the perpetual struggle of self-perserverance within all art practices especially pivotal following graduation. Furthermore, Seidita and McGuffin serve as exemplars of those pioneer artists who create opportunities for themselves using that which is at their disposal.
The episode features interviews with John Kilduff, Ryan McGuffin, and Tomas Mickiewicz Seidita.
John Kilduff: Originally Let’s Paint TV began as a Los Angeles cable access tv show in 2001. Where Kilduff hosted and produced hundreds of shows. In 2006, Kilduff began to upload these videos to youtube where Kilduff became an internet celebrity. Soon, Kilduff performed live on Tyra, VH1′s Big in 06′, and America’s Got Talent Season #2. Clips ofw Let’s Paint TV have appeared on multiple tv programs as well. Kilduff now does his show daily M-F on the internet and performs live at various venues around the world. Kilduff received his MFA in Painting at UCLA in 2008.
Ryan McGuffin is a Los Angeles based artist, whose work attempts to investigate the dishonesty of the image. Ryan uses a wide variety of distortions in his imagery as a tool in blurring the narrative to create a sense of removal from the image. Interested in the lack of truth he sees in nostalgia, he chooses painting as a medium to remove even further the image from the idea of reflection on photography, or more specifically the photograph. Ryan’s curatorial work displays a serious investment in addressing the problems associated with the painting and the painter in the contemporary art world. Ryan received his BFA from California Institute of the arts in 2010.
Tomas Mickiewicz Seidita is a Los Angeles based artist whose work seeks to negotiate the fundamental nature of that which defines “the American,” often resulting in an experience as politically charged as is the cultural landscape of 21st century America. Regularly utilizing appropriation as a means by which to investigate this essential quality, or essential qualities, his work has engaged a variety of sources, from American history, cinema, and of course news media. Political art often attempts, in the general tradition of agit-prop, to offer some kind of solution—presenting an answer as opposed to asking a question. In essence, the result is a complex issue rendered down to that which is readily digestible, a product that is simple rather than intelligible, obvious rather than accessible; something that is at its core easy. Tomas’ work attempts to subvert this standard, to place the responsibility of generating a concrete meaning completely in the hands of the audience, to let them answer those questions of their own accord and to face a complex political issue in a moderately complex way. Tomas received a BFA from the California Institute of the Arts in 2010.
Think Tank Gallery is a studio building in downtown Los Angeles. Back to the Future was the first exhibition to be held there.