Indirect Representations

March 16 - April 15, 2017

Cristin Tierney Gallery is pleased to present Indirect Representations, a group show exploring contemporary portraiture through the rhetorical conventions of synecdoche, metonymy, and metaphor. Curated by gallery artist Joe Fig, the exhibition includes works by Janet Biggs, Ellen Carey, Adam Cvijanovic, Joe Fig, Kate Gilmore, Neil Goldberg, Nina Katchadourian, Byron Kim, Ryan McGinness, Danica Phelps, and Tim Youd. It will be on view from March 16th through April 15th, with an opening reception on Thursday, March 16th from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. Joe Fig and several of the artists will be present at the reception.


Derived from the field of linguistics, synecdoche, metonymy, and metaphor describe different ways words-and by extension images and symbols-can mean something other than their literal definition. Synecdoche, for instance, refers to a person or object by the name of one of their parts; Tim Youd's painting of his hands typing on a typewriter-a proxy for the artist at work-is a perfect example. Similarly, in Ryan McGinness' RM Wigs (2008, 2009, 2011), the artist creates a set of playful stand-ins for himself using his own hair.


Metonymy establishes a relationship between two objects based on close association. In Joe Fig's "portrait" of Ryan McGinness, Fig alludes to the artist by replicating McGinness' studio shelf, replete with tools and personal effects. Although it does not directly show the artist, Fig's sculpture illustrates how seemingly banal and impersonal objects-like McGinness' copies of books on signs and symbols sandwiched between Adobe Creative Suite and Quickbooks software-can represent specific individuals.


Metaphor draws a resemblance between two disparate things without association, describing one object in terms of another. Adam Cvijanovic's painting Portrait of the artist and his wife draws a humorous parallel between the artist, his wife, and a pair of rare and unusual birds, which stand tall and stare at the viewer with eyes full of pathos. 


Grounded in an artistic practice that draws from the conventions of portraiture, Fig is uniquely positioned to mine this subject for new meaning. Whether working in photography, sculpture, painting, video, or performance, each of the artists included in Indirect Representations reveals something of the essential nature of his or her subject precisely by approaching it obliquely.


Adding to the exhibition's exploration of this theme, the gallery will host several events during the show's run. On March 30th, April 6th, and April 13th at 7:00 pm, Neil Goldberg will stage three performances of his improvisational project Inhibited Bites. Both intimate and piercing in its humor, Inhibited Bites features Goldberg reading aloud from a collection of over 700 index cards, which contain the artist's passing observations and ideas jotted down over the last several years. On April 8th at 2:00 pm, Joe Fig will lead a curator's talk on the subject of contemporary portraiture.


Born in 1968, Joe Fig received both his BFA and MFA from the School of Visual Arts. His body of work encompasses a variety of media, in which he examines the role of the artist, the creative process, and the self-made universe of the artist's studio. Fig's work has been exhibited internationally at numerous institutions including the Bruce Museum (Greenwich, CT), Bass Museum of Art (Miami Beach, FL), Parrish Art Museum (Southampton, NY), Toledo Museum of Art (Toledo, OH), Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (Philadelphia, PA), Musée des Beaux-Arts (Tourcoing, France), and New Britain Museum of American Art (New Britain, CT). He is the author of two critically acclaimed books Inside the Artist's Studio (2015) and Inside the Painter's Studio (2009), which include interviews and documentary photographs of today's leading contemporary artists. He lives and works in Connecticut's Farmington River Valley.


For more information please contact Candace Moeller at +1.212.594.0550 or