ALAN VEGA | Welcome to Wyoming
February 20 – March 29, 2015
Friday, February 20, 6-8pm
INVISIBLE-EXPORTS is proud to present, Welcome To Wyoming, an exhibition of new work by Alan Vega—the artist’s first show at the gallery, his first New York exhibition in over a decade, and the first devoted entirely to new work since 1983.
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Born in Brooklyn in 1938, Vega is known first as one-half of the groundbreaking electro-punk duo Suicide. The twosome initiated the merger of adversarial rock and anti-establishment performance that became punk, even as it left the movement behind. They abandoned guitar and embraced synthesizer and drum machine, and were, as Legs McNeil has called them, “dangerous, wildly unpredictable, chaotic performance art” and “about 30 years ahead of its time.” A.R.E. Weapons’ Brian McPeck has called Vega “an Elvis from hell.”
But music was always Vega’s second act. At Brooklyn College, he studied under Ad Reinhardt and Kurt Seligman; then became involved with the activist collective Art Worker’s Coalition, which lobbied aggressively for museum reform and even barricaded MoMA, and with the Project of Living Artists, an anarcho-residency-performance space which emerged from it. He moved from painting to sculptures assembled from light fixtures and discarded electronic detritus. Critic Simon Reynolds has called the work: “trash-culture shrines from a post-cataclysmic America of the near-future”. Vega staged several legendary shows at OK Harris Gallery, and mounted installations, which Jeffrey Deitch later named “the toughest and most radical art I had ever seen.” It was with that assemblage and ready-made work that Vega inaugurated Barbara Gladstone’s first downtown space in 1983. These sculptures also formed the basis of Collision Drive, a 2002 tribute show at Deitch Projects, as well as Infinite Mercy, a major 2009 retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Lyon.
Through the 1980s and 1990s, Vega continued to make new work, but declined to exhibit it until 2002. The work gathered here is all new, and on view for the first time – an installation of a single example of his signature light-based sculpture (2014) and a series of semi-automatic, diary-like drawings (2014-2015), which he produced nightly. The drawings, depictions of a single mythical man, also form, together, a shifting, serial self-portrait.
As Vega once said: “They all look different but they’re all basically me and facets of my personality. I’ve always drawn old men, even when I was a young kid. I used to go out to the Bowery and draw these old guys. Always done while I’m blitzed. Never touch them straight. I write like that, too. Some things come out of me that would never come out of me straight. Never. The sculptures I would never do any other way but straight. That’s dangerous shit, man.”