ARTS & CULTURE

Jonathan Horowitz's Mirror Self Portraits At Gavin Brown Enterprise

03/15/2012 01:42 pm ET | Updated Mar 19, 2012

From Jan Van Eyck's "Arnolfini Portrait" to Edouard Manet's "A Bar at the Folies-Bergere", the mirror has continued to enchant art lovers. Jonathan Horowitz presents the newest exploration of the mirror's mystery with his very conceptual installation "Self-portraits in Mirror #1."

Horowitz is a New York-based multimedia artist who uses humor and irony to examine big ideas, whether political or philosophical. This installation picks up where Roy Lichtenstein left off with his 1960 iconic minimalist work "Mirror #1." Horowitz, along with 19 other artists, will paint Lichtenstein's piece by looking at a small cutout of the original.

"Self-Portrait" asks artists to abolish themselves by working to mimic Lichtenstein. Similarly, it asks us to examine the ways that looking in the mirror erases the self. Questions also arise in regards to the mirror's relationship to art. Do paintings act as a mirror for reality? Can the mirror open up new ways of thinking about art? What's the point of this project, really?

We asked Horowitz a few questions about his work.

Jonathan Horowitz
Self-portraits in Mirror #1
Courtesy: Courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown's enterprise
Copyright: Copyright The Artist

HP: What inspired you to do this installation?

JH: I had previously made four other Lichtenstein mirror self-portrait paintings, all of which I painted myself. For me, the work was in part about accepting failure. Every mark you make is basically a mistake that you have to come to terms with. From another perspective, though, there are no mistakes, and the paintings just are what they are. But apart from the conceptual aspects of the project, I was just interested in what would result, what the paintings would end up looking like. So for this show, that was really the impetus. I wanted to see how the results would differ with different painters.

HP: What was it like to "occupy the skin" of another artist?

JH: It might be more that the other painters were occupying my skin. But what was really fascinating to see was how much the paintings ended up looking like the painters and reflecting their personalities and styles, even though everyone was instructed not to try to interpret the image or impart any style in their rendering. It happened automatically though. And then seeing your painting next to the other paintings, for me, really told me something about myself.

HP: How was it different for you to work with only paint and brushes when your work often involves so many multimedia components? Did the experience change you?

JH: I experience painting as more physical then working in other mediums; for me, it’s like sports. But this particular project was also a lot like editing video, because there are so many small decisions that you have to make. The process involves making so many mistakes, [and] you’re always having to make decisions about how to balance and correct them.

HP: What's next?

JH: More paintings, this time of plants, and I’ll be back to doing everything myself. They're for a two-person show with Elizabeth Peyton. We’re working separately, but the work will be thematically linked.


Jonathan Horowitz
Self-portrait in Mirror #1 (Arlen)
Courtesy: Courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown's enterprise
Copyright: Copyright The Artist

"Self-portraits in Mirror #1" will show until April 21 at Gavin Brownʼs Enterprise.

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