John Lurie I am trying to think. Please be quiet
13.06 – 02.08.2015 John Lurie I am trying to think. Please be quiet
Zachęta – National Gallery of Art
curator: Stanisław Welbel
cooperation: Karolina Sulich
John Lurie returns to Warsaw as a painter! This charismatic artist is best known to the Polish public through his music and film roles. During the 1990s, he twice appeared at the Sala Kongresowa concert hall, with John Lurie National Orchestra, and with his famous band, The Lounge Lizards. John Lurie is for many a legend, and his silence and mysterious disappearance from stage and screen aroused widespread speculation. In fact, this was a result of illness (advanced Lyme disease) that the artist contracted at the end of the 1990s, which forced him to completely cease making music and acting. From that moment on, he has been engaged almost exclusively in painting, a realm he had been interested in earlier. In his own words, he’d ‘been painting from the very beginning’. Lurie’s milieu is the New York artistic bohemia of the 1980s and 1990s, during which period the artist appeared in a number of independent film productions. At the same time, The Lounge Lizards not only gave a great number of concerts, but also became icons of a certain style.
This presentation of contemporary works by John Lurie constitutes an attempt to reconsider this 1990s icon, to confront this image and show the artist in a new light. It is also an attempt to find a viewpoint that goes beyond that of the roles he played in films, one that is closer and better fitting – a more authentic portrait.
In John’s paintings, however, we can still see the artist’s characteristic persona, bursting with an ironic, absurd and sometimes gallows humour. His work shares a similar aesthetic with his music, wherein improvisation and spontaneity are recurrently challenging and disturbing. His paintings, on some occasions so carefully and sensitively painted they appear to been almost chiselled, on others merely sketched, continuously return to certain motifs and figures. The titles they are given often constitute witty and provocative aphorisms. You get the feeling though, that the art is often very personal, as under the veneer of colourful joy and provocative wit, one can also find a humanist attitude that is honest, contemplative and deeply serious. The image of John Lurie encoded in the collective memory, that of the dandy, organically connected with New York, seems on the surface to clash with that of his painting, in which it is the human condition and nature rather than the city that is foregrounded.
John Lurie emerged onto the art scene in the spring of 2004, when he had his first painting exhibition at Anton Kern Gallery. Since then Lurie’s work has been exhibited in esteemed galleries throughout the world. His solo museum exhibitions include P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in New York, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montreal, the Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean in Luxembourg and the Watari Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, which dedicated its entire space to the presentation of Lurie’s work. Both the Wadsworth Atheneum in Connecticut and The Museum of Modern Art in New York have acquired his work for their permanent collections. Prior to focusing on painting, Lurie led the band The Lounge Lizards, which went on to make music for 20 years. During this time, Lurie recorded 22 albums and composed scores for over 20 movies, including Stranger than Paradise, Down by Law, Mystery Train, Clay Pigeons, Animal Factory, and Get Shorty, which earned him a Grammy nomination. Lurie also starred in three films directed by Jim Jarmusch, as well as a host of other films. He wrote, directed and starred in the cult classic Fishing with John, a series that is now part of The Criterion Collection. Lurie is also responsible for the release of the music of the fictional Marvin Pontiac.
I am trying to think. Please be quiet
13.06 – 02.08.2015
Zachęta – National Gallery of Art
pl. Małachowskiego 3, 00-916 Warsaw
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Tuesday – Sunday 12–8 p.m.
Thursday – free entry
ticket office is open until 7.30 p.m.
technological partner: Manta
sponsor of the openin ceremony: Freixenet
media patronage: The Warsaw Voice, Stolica, Artinfo.pl