“Head Gas” is the first New York exhibition by Enrico David, an Italian artist based in Berlin. The normally cheeky art prankster decided to sober up a bit to create this new body of acrylic work, which debuts at the New Museums' recent addition -- Studio 231. In this rare and wonderful show, David presents us with a bevy of bright, haunting acrylic pieces that were created through the light touch of a brush or a few soft swipes from a sponge. As it says on the website, "David’s imagery suggests bodies at the point of apparition or dissolution --beings that cannot be contained or consumed, perhaps only passed through, and reluctantly present." We asked the enigmatic artist a few questions about his work, and his responses are below.
Left: Not yet titled, 2011 (Acrylic on canvas) Private Collection, London
Right: "Enrico Aphid," 2011 (Acrylic on canvas) Private Collection
HuffPost Arts: How are your pieces similar to performances?
ED: In a sense I one could say that every creative act responds to the staging of a drama, the making of something visible, whether that is evoked through a narrative structure or by the properties of materials employed and the way they are put together. The destiny of the figure in my work has often been one of embodiment, role-play, to the point of observing that same body struggling to recognize itself.
HuffPost Arts: How did you make the switch to pure paint, and how did you come up with your new paravents?
ED: My experience of responding to the impulse of making an image does not always coincide with a clear destination for that image to exist. The possibility of painting is something that I have made use of all along in my work, at times as a way to represent sculptures that I could not see clearly enough as objects, or vice versa. I am interested in the properties inherent to the materials involved in painting -- pigments, canvas and their relationship to scale and objects.This somehow is also how the paravents came to be. There is a weakness that I experience in the face of the possibility of painting an image, and that is something that I find necessary, useful and fascinating.
"Sieged by Hole" (Paravent), 2011 and Not yet titled (Paravent), 2011; all Courtesy Michael Werner Gallery
HuffPost Arts: What is your take on Gide's statement: "In art there are no problems that are not sufficiently solved by the work of art itself"?
ED: Images present themselves without a language, and my default is to try and foster them with the linguistic and intellectual faculties that we tend to apply to everything else. In a sense we approach the experience of art with a set of references that most of the time have very little -- if anything -- to do with what the image proposes in its essence. One could say that looking at art is a way to test our capacity to prove ourselves wrong over and over.
Left: "Untitled," 2011 (Acrylic on canvas) Private Collection, London
Right: "Odorless Rot," 2011 (Acrylic on canvas) Private Collection
"Head Gas" is on view at Studio 231 in New York until April 22, 2012. (All photos above were taken by Jesse Untracht-Oakner.)