Precious Provincials

Georgia Gardner Gray

22 April - 18 June 2017, Opening: April 21, 7:30 pm

Georgia Gardner Gray, Breakfast, 2016
Georgia Gardner Gray, Untitled (Carrying a lady to her chair), 2016Georgia Gardner Gray, Science (Ötzi the Iceman), 2016Georgia Gardner Gray, Butterfly Eyes (small), 2016

In her first institutional solo show, the painter Georgia Gardner Gray (*1988, New York, USA, lives and works in Berlin) presents new mid- and large-format paintings and sculptural drawings. The works are staged within the exhibition space around the narrative of a theater play adapted from the comedy of the French playwright Molière that she created specifically for the Kunstverein.

Like Molière, Gardner Gray engages with typical human modes of behavior through the mannered characters in her iridescent paintings, albeit of a present-day sort. In the tradition of the classical genre painting, she renders everyday scenes and present day lifestyles through constellations of stylized figures. In this series, her images show outsiders like punks, groupies, or street musicians eating croissants picked out of a dumpster, breaching etiquette and rejecting the mainstream through their accepted, traditionally non-conformist behavior. Furthermore, she negotiates gender hierarchies, male and female vices, and fixed role attributions: be it unsatisfied intellectuals, the cool schoolgirl ignored by the boys, or a hungover couple with traces of ketamine and aspirin on the nightstand in the aftermath of a party. Gardner Gray grasps that the rebellious attitude of ‘bohemians’ has become a prototype for the current development of a society that has made continuous change and experimental forms of life the normal standard. To find the grain means coping with the ambivalences between self-determination, attitude, and personal freedom.

Adapted from Molière’s one-act play The Affected Young Ladies, Gardner Gray developed a short play for the Kunstverein that will premiere in the exhibition. While her paintings critically deal with the changing values of a post-materialist society in the age of globalization, the play stages a domestic scenery of a tyrannical and at once brilliant young girl. In a humorous way, she tells the story of the child’s imaginary world, set in an ordinary family home whose fixed norms and plain conventions she rebels against through her precociousness and wit. The plot begins with light banter and intrigue, then progresses to heavier topics of guilt, anger and atonement.

Georgia Gardner Gray studied at Cooper Union in New York. Her works were presented for the first time in a solo exhibition at the project space Acud Gallery, Berlin, in 2016. Gardner Gray has participated in the group shows Monday is a Day between Sunday and Tuesday, Tanya Leighton Gallery, Berlin (2017), New Theater: Selected Plays, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2015), The Pipe at the Gates of Dawn, Jan Kaps Gallery, Cologne (2014), among others.

Curated by Anna Nowak.

The exhibition is kindly supported by the Ministry of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, the Hamburgische Kulturstiftung, and the Leinemann-Stiftung für Bildung und Kunst.