MMXII BNPJ
Jon Rafman

May 5th and 6th, 2012

Opposites engage and contend in Jon Rafman's Brand New Paint Jobs (BNPJ). Conversations between opposing cultural perspectives clash as past, present and future first mirror and then conflict with one another. In the BNPJ project, ordinary objects become infused with historically celebrated works of Art. Each piece in the series is a deliberation between a consumer object and a canonized painting, the formal result of the meeting of a three-dimensional object and a two-dimensional image. A Venus garden sculpture is layered with Sam Francis’ characteristic splashes of paint.  A pocket bike is airbrushed with Barnett Newman’s, Who’s Afraid of Red Yellow and Blue. The cultural weight of the underlying structure challenges that of the two-dimensional painting, which is its skin or texture. The conversation occurring between the surface and the object - the connotations of a high modernist painting versus those of a mass-produced object -  is not simply another example of the blurring of the distinction between high and low culture. Walking the receding line between art and design, Rafman suggests that history is ultimately wrapped around and involved in whatever we do. By rendering canonized works as add-on surfaces, Brand New Paint Job implicitly critiques the reification of art history.

Previously conceptualized and rendered solely in digital form, MMXII BNPJ marks the emergence of the series in sculptural form. MMXII BNPJ compels us to re-conceptualize our relationship to art and our functional goods. We are invited back to a time when art was woven into the fabric of our lives. By layering a pocket bike with Malevich’s iconic Suprematist painting, we are freed from the responses that they have come to elicit. The motorcycle becomes a conceptual vehicle that allows Malevich’s composition to re-enter our understanding. As the paintings become alive in a new way, they become vital in their new form and we are made to rethink the object and the painting. For does it not make as much sense to put a painting on a motorcycle as it does to put it on a wall in a gallery?

Jon Rafman is an artist, filmmaker and critic whose works are often characterized by irony, humor, and melancholy. He holds a B.A. in Philosophy and Literature from McGill University and a M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His films and new media work have gained international attention, and have been exhibited at Slamdance Film, Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome, and the New Museum in NYC. Rafman’s Nine Eyes of Google Street View project has been featured in The Guardian, Modern Painter, Der Speigel, Libération, New York Times, and Harper’s Magazine.

  • Franz Kline Kawasaki Ninja
  • Yves Klein Jet-Ski
  • Brice Marden, Mark Rothko, Clifford Still, & Kazimir Malevich Pocket Bikes
  • Claude Flight Camcorder, XBOX 360 Racing Cockpit, Joaquin Torres-Garcia Laptop Computer
  • Umberto Boccioni Living Room Suite Jon Rafman
  • Umberto Boccioni Living Room Suite
  • David Hockney Steamer Jon Rafman
  • David Hockney Steamer, Clothing Rack, and Shirts
  • Sam Francis Venus Statues
  • Sam Francis Venus Statues
  • Paint FX Goalie Mask
  • Yves Klein Jet Ski Motor

American Medium is a multimedia exhibition platform for contemporary art. We are committed to presenting and supporting 21st century modes of cultural exchange.


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