Textual Healing

James Lassen

January 31 through March 8

Reception for the artist
January 31, 6:00 - 9:00

Exhibition Photos

Textual Healing features representational paintings and drawings about modern communication. The show title is both a pun on the classic Marvin Gaye song, Sexual Healing, as well as a nod to text messaging and how it has enriched (or at least affected) our lives and the lives around us. Each work is multi-faceted in its use of humor and seriousness as well its combination of hard-edged and expressive painting techniques.

On its most basic level, Textual Healing is a portrait exhibition where the figure has been demoted in favor of our increasing reliance on the ever-present cell phone screen. According to Lassen, "People often choose to experience life with a phone occupying their field of vision to the point where it seems like a preference is being made in the phone's favor over real life itself." Illustrating this bizarre priority structure, Lassen renders the phones sharply and in full color while the surrounding figures are often black and white, blurred, distorted, erased, dripped or altered in some way. The on-screen content is completely trivial, despite seeming to be more important and pristine than the surrounding elements. Figures exist in the context of a text-based painting as seen through the eyes of a photo-realist.

Five years in the making, Textual Healing explores viewer relationships with figures versus text; face-to-face interaction versus cell phone addiction; and representational art making versus contemporary trends in installation, found objects and video. The exhibition includes installations and video elements to reinforce the artistís viewpoint. According to Lassen, the inclusion of different media "shows that seemingly competitive media can exist within the same piece without taking attention away from the paintings and drawings." Oil painting and charcoal drawing have many centuryís worth of historical significance to inform the viewer, and each viewer brings with them some knowledge of this. Seeing irreverent modern iconography like text messages and menu icons rendered in such historically weighty media will leave viewers wondering about the significance of these devices and whether or not we should be behaving differently.