Joe Fig: Mining the Past and Present

Painter and sculptor Joe Fig unravels the myth of the artist. Much like a historian or an anthropologist Fig undertakes meticulous research to unearth how artists create their work. In an early series of paintings and sculptures, Fig involved his subjects directly through observation, conversations, photographs and videotapes during studio visits. The resulting artworks--painstakingly detailed miniature portraits of each artist in their studio--are a glimpse into the practices of individual artists. These works demonstrate much of the solitary nature of artistic endeavors.

In a new body of work, portraits of the 19th century painters at the dawn of modernism, Fig turns his eye to the past. Unable to rely on first person accounts, these paintings are partly born from Fig's imagination, as they are his interpretations of available resources. Fig looks through the lens of another artistic investigation--Ross King's written account, "The Judgement of Paris: Manet, Meissonier and an Artistic Revolution," 2006. As such, Fig visually translates King's artistic study while adding his own envisioned narrative to historical events such as the Salon of 1863. As a result, these paintings are not only an examination into the individual artistic process but also the nature of artistic communities. Fig depicts the camaraderie and the competition that push artists to greater heights.

This exhibition highlights the arc of fig's search into the artistic psyche and practice to date. On view is one of his first pieces, a painted portrait of his worktable; the painted palettes of both historical and contemporary artists; portraits of Edouard Manet (1832-1883) and Jean-Louis Ernest Meissonier (1815-1891) along with pained and sculpted portraits of his own contemporaries and their workspaces. Through these pieces, Fig provides an intimate glimpse into the enigmatic world of the artist at work. He reveals both the introspective aspects and the social constructs of the art world as experienced by his peers and by artists rooted in the annals of art history.