Showing Images From The Mystic Chords of Memory
Solo Show of Paintings/Sculptures, June 4th – July 4th, 2009
Iguapop Gallery, Barcelona, Spain
In the final paragraph of Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address he uttered these words, “The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” It was a floral and passionate statement that called on a nation in turmoil to focus their energy on the original intention for the founding of the United States. It was about emerging from difficult times, regrouping and embarking on a more positive path.
Surely these words are relevant to the current state of things in America, but for Tim Biskup, the study of American history has long been more than a literal subject. For him it is a matter of connecting metaphors to his personal life and artistic pursuits. In 2006 his “American Cyclops” exhibition (Iguapop Gallery, Barcelona, Spain) focused on early American history and the process by which corruption occurs. The underlying theme was that of questioning ones own integrity and sense of purpose. The overall feeling was one of longing for an idealized and inspiring America, and thus, a more ideal self.
In the years since “American Cyclops”, Biskup has done some heavy soul-searching and a series of provocative exhibitions that have revealed much about the artist’s intimate connection to his work and a great deal about the artist himself. In “Vapor” (Gallery Engler, Berlin, Germany, 2006) and “Ether” (Billy Shire Fine Arts, Culver City, California, 2007), a pair of brutally emotional shows, he presented paintings that expressed his darkest feelings of anger, sadness and pain. He followed with “The Artist In You” (Jonathan LeVine Gallery, NYC, 2008), a project that dug into his personal feelings about the art world and included a book of vitriolic and passionate writings on the subject. His most recent exhibition, “O/S (Operating System)” (Addict Galerie, Paris, France, 2008) was an attempt to present some of the ideas formulated in “The Artist In You” in more symbolic gestures. Each painting was presented with a cumbersome “system” that was used to ship and display the work.
With his new solo exhibition, “The Mystic Chords Of Memory” Biskup returns to American history as a source of inspiration. This time, though, having struggled through so much personal muck, the sense is that he is revisiting the subject with revelations about his country, his work and indeed himself that make the experience less of an indictment and more of a celebration. The work is filled with beauty and color. Themes of nature abound. There are half-naked women in nearly every piece bristling with joy and passion. The compositions are stuffed full of images and in many cases they appear to be painted one on top of the other. One gets the feeling that Biskup just can’t get enough of his ideas into each painting so they are compressed and barely contained.
Biskup has said that this exhibition is about getting back to making “pretty pictures”, but these pictures are not just pretty. They are messages about his life and what it feels like to emerge from difficult times, regroup and embark on a more positive path.