18 Wooster Street
Bowery Boys, an exhibition of new paintings by Rosson Crow, opened at 18 Wooster Street on Thursday, March 4th. This exhibition of large-scale oil paintings explored the history of "bad boys" in underground art and as an agent of culture in New York City.
From the flamboyance of a wild-style bombed train pulling into a subway station in the 80s to a haunting red opium den from Chinatown in the 1880s, Rosson explored the rebellious and lawless side of New York City history. Rendered in hallucinatory layers of oil paints and washes, her theatrical confabulations collapsed centuries and synthesized styles to reveal the haunted nature of interior space and the affinities that aligned across time.
Large and in charge, one painting featured a superimposition of the stained glass windows of gothic Bowery Mission onto the interior of its odd Bowery neighbor, the New Museum; a second paired a vintage New York City sex club, Plato's Retreat, with the new Andre Balazs' Boom Boom Room and a Bruce Nauman neon; a third adorned a 1800s barber shop with 80's Allen Ruppersburg texts from MoMA in bold Brillo Box (and Deitch) colors. Some canvases straightforwardly conjured the artist's imagining of "bad boy" dens or lairs without the historical hybridization: Kenny Scharf's black light disco Cosmic Cavern, Dash Snow and Dan Colen's NEST exhibition at Deitch Projects, or Keith Haring's more child-friendly Pop Shop.
Rosson always showed a marked interest in masculine spaces; she had previously painted saloons, gun shops, oil derricks, rodeos, stock market floors, and many places in the arguably male-dominated tradition of modern art. Here, she imaginatively explored the idea of the "bad boy" as fawned over by art audiences and celebrated in New York City history. How had a spirit of illegality and rebellious youth shaped the New York City cultural landscape? Gangs, graffiti, gays, drugs and illicit sex were part of the city's spirit, but also a big part of the art world today. How had New Yorkers' love for this spirit shaped the history of art and exhibitions today? The cultural moment in underground New York, when hip-hop met graffiti met the East Village scene in the 80s, led to an art explosion of interdisciplinary activity. Many of these paintings explored that moment and its legacy for artists working right now.
The canvases themselves were big, bold, and unabashedly entertaining. As philosophically-minded as Rosson may have been, she was certainly not afraid to be sexy and fun. The scale and flung paint may have been visually very macho, but the paintings were ladylike as well, and Rosson was the type of feminist who saw "ladylike" as the compliment that it was. Her frank, punk, post-gender attack was more personal than political, and more imaginative than expository-- or in simpler terms, more badass.
This exhibition had a bit of a self-reflexive feel as well, as the history of Deitch Projects was aligned with the cultural trends explored in Rosson's paintings. Jeffrey Deitch was an instrumental figure in maintaining and shaping the legacies of the 80s that Rosson addressed, and the position of Deitch Projects in exhibiting and supporting the current generation of rebellious youth and underground art from this lineage was in line with Rosson's work. By exploring these themes in paint, Rosson claimed them for her own as well, loved and hated aspects of them, but painted herself into the discussion nonetheless.
Rosson Crow was originally from Texas living in New York City via Los Angeles and Paris. A contemporary hybrid version of a traditional history painter, Rosson moved to New York City for six months to research and execute this exhibition. Her shows often related to the history of the city in which they were exhibited: a Paris show at Nathalie Obadia featured the gardens of Versailles, Fontainebleau and the Loire Chateaux crossed with Las Vegas casino floors, a Los Angeles show at Honor Fraser Gallery featured famous LA architecture and Dwight Yoakam, and her last exhibition, Texas Crude, at White Cube in London focused on belching black oil rigs in Texas and Francis Bacon butcher shops. This exhibition was accompanied by a catalogue.
March 8 - 11, 2018
We will present a special solo project by the artist JR.
Image: JR, Migrants, Walking New York City, 2015
April - May 2018
18 Wooster Street
76 Grand Street
New York, NY 10013
Monday – Friday
10 AM – 6 PM
Tuesday – Saturday
Noon – 6 PM
The gallery reopens with People in April 2018.
+1 (212) 343-7300
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