Monthly Archives: December 2013

Michael Meadors: Defaced

Opening Reception: January 9, 2014, 6—8 pm

Hamilton Square Condominium

232 Pavonia Avenue
Jersey City, NJ 07302


Exhibition Run: January 9, 2014—May 31, 2014

Michael Meadors, Commercial Art, 2013, Graphite and enamel on paper, 30 x 22 inches.

Michael Meadors, Commercial Art, 2013, Graphite and enamel on paper, 30 x 22 inches.

SILVERMAN and Hamilton Square Condominium Association present Michael Meadors: Defaced, curated by Brendan Carroll. The exhibition brings together a series of works on paper made over the past year while Meadors was living in Berlin, Germany. The series, titled Maiden America, features a collection of young attractive women in various states of undress. In many of the works, the artist scrawls seemingly erratic, painterly flourishes over the face of his sitters, which challenge the idea of portraiture itself. The effect is invigorating.

Portraiture has a long-established tradition in the history of Western art. At first, Christian deities were the primary subjects, then popes and kings, and finally nobles and other prominent citizens. The general idea was to capture the visual appearance of the subject. Modern art upended this convention. Artists opted to capture the psychological or emotional state of the sitter rather than his or her appearance. Meadors, by contrast, is not interested in the inner lives of his sitters. Rather, he uses portraiture to explore issues of desire, voyeurism, advertising, mass media, and the artifice of painting.

Meadors is an artist who wants to have his cake and eat it too. He notes:

“My images are inspired and derived from the presentation of women in advertising, particularly fashion. Fashion offers up a fantasy, a desire to be with or become a beautiful person. It is a facade, no matter how effective or enticing it is.… Commodity and power are explicitly linked to pretty images. 

In a sense I’m as culpable in this power exchange as advertisement firms are. I methodically create a signpost to seduction. I want you to fall in love with these icons. I want your capital. My motives are as shallow as the space I depict.” 

In his portraits, solitary figures appear against nondescript flat backgrounds. He renders his subjects in graphite. The scale of the work relates to our daily interaction with advertising, which towers over most viewers. “The scale of the women staring at the viewer must overwhelm us with their gaze and with their size,” notes the artist. In manner and form, the compositions mimic the controversial advertisements of American Apparel. The barrier between model and viewer is nearly nonexistent. What is shown is an endless litany of attractive women with hard bodies, bare midriffs, heaving bosoms, plunging necklines, and pursed lips. It would be easy to dismiss his work as a cheap thrill, but that would be wrong.

Meadors’s work titillates as much as it confounds the viewer. He goes to great lengths to capture the likeness of a model, only to undermine his efforts with a splash of paint that runs across the surface of composition. These erratic spasms of paint operate as visual deterrents in his portraits, preventing the viewer from having unfettered access to each sitter.

Michael Meadors, Gaze, 2013, Graphite, stabilo pencil, and enamel on paper, 22 x 15 inches.

Michael Meadors, Gaze, 2013, Graphite, stabilo pencil, and enamel on paper, 22 x 15 inches.

In Presentation, a blue aerosol cloud obscures the picture plane. Behind the colored mist stands a young woman in the process of unbuttoning her blouse. Pursed mouth and décolletage are apparent, but her face is not. In Worth a Look, a voluptuous woman is pictured wearing a summer dress that barely contains her overflowing chest. Her appearance is obliterated by a series of erasure marks. Meadors does not always obfuscate the facade of a sitter. Three pink horizontal bands zip across the surface in Commercial Art, just beneath the sitter’s upraised shoulder.

These counterintuitive gestures draw attention away from the model and destroy any notion of illusionism. How could an artist destroy his own work? “With the easy availability of billions of images online, on our phones, plastered all over the city, images have become cheap,” notes Meadors. “It would be meaningless to vandalize over actual photography. There’s no risk in destroying someone else’s construct. There’s much more power to be gained by implicating myself in the process through a meticulous drawing that I obliterate.”

Meadors work is as much about capturing the likeness of his sitters as it is about challenging a viewer’s expectation of such work.

Artist Michael Meadors is a contemporary painter. Sloan Fine Art, Greenville Museum of Art, Hersh Fine Art, and Manifest Gallery, among others, have organized exhibitions featuring his work. He is the recipient of many awards, including Leipzig International Artist Residency Program, Urbanfuse Berlin Artist in Residence Program, and Eileen Kaminsky Family Foundation Studio Residency. Meadors earned his Master of Fine Arts, Painting, New York Academy of Art, New York, NY. He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts, Painting and Drawing, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC. Meadors was born in California and raised in North Carolina. He lives and works in Jersey City, NJ.

The exhibition will be on view at Hamilton Square Condominiums through May 2014. For further information, please visit us at SILVERMAN or call number (201) 435-8000.

Michael Meadors: Defaced is the seventeenth exhibition that Brendan Carroll will organize for SILVERMAN.

For additional information, go here: Michael Meadors.

SILVERMAN has presented the works of John Aloysius Patterson, Mark Dagley, Kati Vilim, Enrico Gomez, Charlotte Becket, Roger Sayre, Karina Aguilera Skvirsky, Tom McGlynn, Margaret Murphy, Valeri Larko, Tenesh Webber, Glenn Garver, Jennifer Krause Chapeau, Michelle Doll, Tim Heins, Megan Maloy, Laurie Riccadonna, Thomas John Carlson, Tim Daly, Ann Flaherty, Scott Taylor, Jason Seder, Sara Wolfe, Beth Gilfilen, Andrzej Lech, Hiroshi Kumagai, Tom McGlynn, Victoria Calabro, Asha Ganpat, Darren Jones, Ryan Roa,Laura Napier, Risa Puno, Nyugen E. Smith, Amanda Thackray, and Kai Vierstra.