A Guest + A Host = A Ghost
Nathan Mabry and Bernard Piffaretti

July 14 - August 25, 2018


Images / Press Release


Installation views

Bernard Piffaretti
Sans-titre
2017
Acrylic on canvas
39 x 31 inches, 100 x 81 centimeters

Nathan Mabry
The Nostalgia of the Infinite (La Lune)
2018
Aluminum, stainless steel, paint
85.5 x 66.5 x 17 inches, 217.17 x 168.91 x 43.18 centimeters

Bernard Piffaretti
Sans-titre
2017
Acrylic on canvas
59 x 59 inches, 150 x 150 centimeters

Bernard Piffaretti
Sans-titre
2017
Acrylic on canvas
23 x 35 inches, 60 x 90 centimeters

Nathan Mabry
Machines Turn Quickly (No. 2)
2018
Earthenware, giclee print on canvas, wood, steel, aluminum, glaze, paint
56 x 18 x 18 inches, 142 x 45 x 45 centimeters


Bernard Piffaretti
Sans-titre
2017
Acrylic on canvas
58 x 35 inches, 147 x 89 centimeters

Bernard Piffaretti
Sans-titre
2017
Acrylic on canvas
31.50 x 31.50 inches, 80 x 80 centimeters


Press Release

Philip Martin Gallery presents a two-person exhibition featuring new works by sculptor Nathan Mabry and painter Bernard Piffaretti. The exhibition will open Saturday July 14 with a opening reception from 6-8pm.

In their respective bodies of work, Nathan Mabry and Bernard Piffaretti ask questions about art-making, identity and authorship. Mabry and Piffaretti think about art history and art's place in the context of the ever-reaching, image-driven, mass-media culture of today. The title for the exhibition is derived from Marcel Duchamp’s frequently referenced well-known aphorism and 1953 artwork, “A Guest + A Host = A Ghost.” Here Duchamp suggests a formula by which to interpret the slippage inherent in combining people, objects and ideas.

“A Guest + A Host = A Ghost” will feature several works by Nathan Mabry including his major new sculpture,  “Nostalgia of the Infinite (La Lune).” In a surreal moment, a cast stainless steel bird rests atop a monochrome abstract aluminum sculpture. The metal plate forms are arranged to create a font that spells the letters i-b-i-s. The ibis is a species found all over the world and in the symbolism of many different cultures. In ancient Egyptian mythology, the ibis represents Thoth, the deity that maintains the universe. Thoth is responsible not only for writing and science, but also for magic and the afterlife. The large circular form of Mabry’s work is drawn in part from David Smith’s monumental, “Circle I” (1962). Mabry writes that Smith’s work has its own “aesthetic relationships to geometric masks and other celestial systems." The organic form of the bird and the hard-edge geometry of the plate metal are unified by way of the paint color "Process Cyan,” a color used in the print trade. that also suggests faience clay, the oldest known type of glazed ceramic developed in Egypt and Mesopotamia more than 6,000 years ago. Mabry's sculpture stands as a portal and a representation of time. This approach, Mabry writes, "explores an already-told story to reveal new myths.”

Also included are two works from Mabry’s “Machines Turn Quickly” series. The title is drawn from a painting made by Francis Picabia in 1917. Mabry’s works contextualize a range of ancient ceramic artifacts with recognizable gestures from the 20th century. The “Machines Turn Quickly” works included here have a sculptural top element based on an aryballos — a Greek perfume jar — that sits on a bottom sculptural element clad in Giclee prints. These prints endlessly reproduce Jackson Pollock’s drip painting, “Free Form” (1964), inverting, multiplying and extending Pollock’s language across the surface of Mabry’s sculpture. The jars, hand-sculpted by Mabry in clay, are enlarged, figuratively altered and glazed in a monochromatic terra-cotta color. The industrial metal casters at the bottom of these works suggest mobility and manufacture. Mabry’s series investigates the intersection of art and anthropology through archeological artifacts and iconic artworks of "cultural significance.”

Mabry’s “Heavy Handed” sculptures are made of cor-ten weathering steel and resemble block-like human hands. They make gestures ranging from the benign to the profane. Mabry’s Heavy-Handed works reference sign language, colloquial symbols and other forms of gestural communication that can be simultaneously illustrative and provocative, often there are many different possible interpretations based on geography and culture.

For more than 30 years, French artist Bernard Piffaretti has expressed the virtues and contradictions of painting, pairing codes of modern abstraction with a strict conceptual methodology. Since the mid-1980s, Piffaretti has approached the blank canvas with a first mark: a single line that he paints down the center of each work. Piffaretti then paints a composition on one side of this line and a “duplicate” composition on the other side. Piffaretti’s paintings examine the relations between reality, symbols, and society, in particular the significations and symbolism of culture and media involved in constructing an understanding of shared existence. Piffaretti's paintings mark the original spot of expression, and translate the experience of that expression. Our eyes move through his compositions, matching color and shape, line and texture in a dynamic, yet strangely looping fashion that wraps back upon itself.

In Piffaretti’s work, duplication is a question, and in some sense it is a negation. But it is not a negation fraught with heroic pathos. And it is not a copy. Piffaretti writes that, “a copy is made in relation to a final state.” Duplication is a postponement - a break in the action that allows the viewer to see both sides of the canvas. An uncanny pattern emerges in Bernard Piffaretti’s paintings as Arielle Blair has written, “the eye wanders back and forth attempting to unlock the puzzle of the self-contained meme and decode the artist’s experiments in variation.” “The principle rule of dividing the canvas,” provides “a platform while functioning as an anchoring device of each painting.” “Piffaretti’s duplicated paintings are neither exact copies of one another, nor are they independent images.” They “make us do a double take, defying the stagnancy of certain abstract painting.”

Nathan Mabry received his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and his MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles. Mabry’s work has been the focus of important exhibitions, including his solo exhibition at the Nasher Sculpture Center (Dallas, TX); “Thing: New Sculpture from Los Angeles” (Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA); “Red Eye: Los Angeles Artists from the Rubell Family Collection” (Rubell Family Collection, Miami, FL); and “Thief Among Thieves” (Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, CO). Mabry’s work is included in the collections of the Hammer Museum (Los Angeles, CA); Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA); Orange County Museum of Art (Newport Beach, CA); Museum of Contemporary Art (San Diego, CA); Phoenix Museum of Art (Phoenix; AZ); Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas, TX); Nasher Sculpture Center (Dallas, TX); Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (Kansas City, MO); Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY). Private collections include 176 / Zabludowicz Collection (London, UK); The Rubell Family Collection, (Miami, FL); and Vanhaerents Art Museum (Brussels, Belgium). Mabry’s work has been the subject of reviews and articles in such domestic and international publications as Art in America, Art Forum, Art + Auction, Frieze, Modern Painters, The Art Newspaper, Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times. Mabry lives and works in Los Angeles.

Bernard Piffaretti’s work recently been the subject of solo and two-person exhibitions at FRAC Franche-Comté (Besançon, France); Musée des Beaux Arts de Nantes (with Martin Barré, Nantes, France); and Kunstverein Schwäbisch Hall (Schwäbisch Hall, Germany). In the last three years monographs on Piffaretti’s work have been published by the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAMCO)  and Karma (New York, NY). Piffaretti’s work has been the subject of solo museum exhibitions at the Frac Haute-Normandie (2010, Rouen, France); Musée d’ Art Moderne (2009, Saint-Etienne, France); Musée Matisse (2008. Le Cateau- Cambrésis, France); Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art/MAMCO (2007, Geneva, Switzerland); Beaumont Public Gallery (2006, Luxembourg, Germany); Sara Hilden Art Museum (2001, Tampere, Switzerland); Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art (2000, Paris, France); and Villa Arson (1991, Nice, France). Piffaretti has been featured in museum group exhibitions at the Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris, France); Hong Kong Museum; CAPC Museum of Contemporary Art (Bordeaux, France); Joan Miro Foundation (Barcelona, Spain); National Gallery of the Grand Palais (Paris, France); and Switzerland Museum of Fine Arts (Bern, Switzerland). Piffaretti lives and works in Paris.

Philip Martin Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 11am-6pm and by appointment. For further information and images please contact the gallery at +310-559-0100 or info@philipmartingallery.com.

Philip Martin Gallery
2712 S. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034
+310-559-0100
info@philipmartingallery.com