Forever and Ever

A response to On Kawara’s Today series, Forever follows the artist’s spiritual journey through daily readings of the Tanakh, the Tao Te Ching, and the New Testament. Each piece in the series presents a citation on which the artist’s meditation of the passage-cited was concurrent to and memorialized by the creation of the piece. The reference to Kawara’s Today series and the mimicry of its minimalist style are leveraged for their potential to enrich discussion on the project, to invite impartial (if not charitable) engagement with the referents, and to give way to the wisdom within the original texts.

2020-22. Acrylic on three canvases

VERUM PULCHRUM BONUM combines Classical metaphysics with Conceptualist text painting (cf. On Kawara, John Baldessari), inviting viewers to the contemplation of the three “transcendentals”—truth, beauty, and goodness—and their presence/absence as ends or desires in postmodern art, contemporary culture, and themselves.

The text of VERUM is translated from the Gospel According to John. The text of PULCHRUM is paraphrased from “The Idiot” by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Platitudes (400 BC-2020)
Deco Art Gallery, Oakland
2020. Two 5×2’ inkjet prints, teak, leather

Outerspection led the artist to Jenny Holzer’s
Truisms (1978-87), essentially a list of self-authored adages, among which are “SELF-AWARENESS CAN BE CRIPPLING,” “ANY SURPLUS IS IMMORAL,” and “BEING SURE OF YOURSELF MEANS YOU’RE A FOOL.” 

And to the Delphic Maxims, a collection of ancient Greek proverbs inscribed into the walls of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi (4th C. BC) by its High Priestess, the Pythia, such as “KNOW THYSELF,” “NOTHING IN EXCESS,” and “SURETY BRINGS RUIN.”

This installation puts Holzer and the High Priestess in dialogue by presenting the ancient maxims as a work resembling one of the former’s own. And it is a nod to her, who, alongside the Pictures Generation, legitimized pithy statements and appropriation as means of fine art-making, while centering the female ethos as a source of cultural critique. More importantly, it places ancient wisdom under contemporary scrutiny, artistic contemplation, and personal reflection.

Under a different title, format, and location, the same text is presented as Inflammatory Maxims. See below.

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