New York, NY - Dia Art Foundation announces the launch of Wrestling with the Blob Beast, a web-based project by artist Ezra Johnson, the latest in Dia's ongoing series of online artworks. The project can be seen beginning April 17 at www.diaart.org/johnson. An opening reception will be held at Dia on Thursday, April 17, 2008, from 6 to 8 pm on the fifth floor at 535 West 22nd Street, New York City.
In Wrestling with the Blob Beast, Johnson presents a collection of sixteen animated screensavers. Derived from painting, they cover a wide field, ranging from formal studies where color is a primary concern, to quiet nature scenes like a campfire at night, to vignettes where figure and abstraction appear to be in active battle, as in several pieces where hands appear to wrestle with paint which morphs into a dog's face and then reverts to paint strokes. While the wrestling pieces serve as humorous metaphors for the sometimes arduous endeavor of painting, others suggest a more serene relationship, such as Fly, in which a tiny painted airplane inches across a wet, painted sky.
Johnson uses digital technology to record and assemble his animations, yet his imagery retains a low-tech, painterly feel, with the paintstrokes providing unexpected physicality in a medium where motion is typically video or computer-generated animation. For the artist, paint is his primary focus, with the animation serving less as the end rather than another means of looking at painting.
The artists' first well-known work, What Visions Burn from 2006, was a 22-minute dvd which mixed painting and cinema in an entertaining and self-referential heist film. The brief looping scenes which comprise the screensavers for Wrestling with the Blob Beast continue Johnson's painterly exploration of cinematic conventions while using animation to look a new possibilities in painting.
Ezra Johnson was born in 1975 in Wenatchee, Washington, and lives in Brooklyn. He received a BFA in painting from the California College of Arts and Crafts in San Francisco in 2000 and completed an MFA in painting in 2006 at Hunter College in New York City. During his MFA studies, he participated in an exchange program with the Universitat der Kunst in Berlin. His work has been shown at numerous exhibitions including solo gallery shows in New York, Los Angeles, and Torino, Italy. His first solo museum show was at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles in 2007.
Artists' Projects for the Web
Dia initiated a series of web-based works in early 1995, becoming one of the first arts organizations to foster the use of the world wide web as an artistic and conceptual medium. Dia's collection of web projects currently numbers twenty-seven. Previous projects include Wilfredo Prieto's A Moment of Silence (2007); Maja Bajevic's I Wish I was Born in a Hollywood Movie (2006); Dorothy Cross's Foxglove: digitalis purpurea (2005); Ana Torfs' Approximations/Contradictions (2004); Allen Ruppersberg's The New Five Foot Shelf (2004); Glenn Ligon's Annotations (2003); Shimabuku's Moon Rabbit (2001); Stephen Vitiello's Tetrasomia (2000); Diller + Scofidio's Refresh (1998); and Komar and Melamid's The Most Wanted Paintings (1995), among others. All may be visited at Dia's website, at www.diaart.org/webproj/.
Funding for this project has been provided the New York State Council on the Arts.
Dia Art Foundation
A nonprofit institution founded in 1974, Dia Art Foundation is internationally renowned for initiating, supporting, presenting, and preserving art projects. Dia presents public programs and its permanent collection of works from the 1960s through the present at Dia:Beacon, Riggio Galleries, in New York's Hudson Valley. In the fall of 2007 Dia initiated a partnership with The Hispanic Society of America in which Dia presents commissions and projects by contemporary artists in the Hispanic Society's galleries. Dia is actively engaged in a search for a permanent home for its New York City initiatives. Additionally, Dia maintains long-term, site-specific projects in the western United States, in New York City, and in Bridgehampton on Long Island. For additional public information, visit www.diaart.org.
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