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Gregory Forstner
Study for An American Archetype

May 17 – July 13, 2012

Messineo Art Projects and Wyman Contemporary are pleased to present
Study for An American Archetype, an exhibition of iconoclastic narrative paintings by the acclaimed artist Gregory Forstner in his first solo show in the US.

Forstner’s polemical painting seeks to tell stories that often personify an irreverent anti-hero and depict actions that condense historical and literary mythic narratives. By using stereotypes projected through the lens of white society and integrated into a “collective unconscious,” Forstner attempts to skew the logic of these stereotypes and invent his own unique notion of a new archetype for painting. 

His vehicle is charged imagery based on a hierarchy of a dominant class defined along the lines of characters that waver between dominant and submissive, master and slave and minstrelsy.

The blackface minstrel show, that were popular in American cultural life during the 1830 -1840 decades was considered the first distinctly American Theatrical genre. It provided a portal through which white America could view black America. While it had strong racist overtones, it made audiences more aware of significant aspects of black American culture. Before the Civil War, minstrel shows were usually performed by white players in blackface. But after 1865, African Americans performed minstrelsy in blackface. Shows typically lampooned African Americans depicting them as dimwitted, lazy, buffoonish, superstitious, and happy go-lucky.

As evidenced in “A New American Archetype-3,” ambiguity is the key to unlocking Forstner’s penchant for ambivalence and humor.

This ambiguity also seeks to taunt the viewer who tries to reconcile the morals of a culture he or she is subjected to. The skull – “the mask of death”- appears continually as an omnipresent alter ego. Forstner repeatedly employs a parapet to connect the fictive world of the painting with that of the viewer. Overall, the paintings are marked by an ever-shifting pictorial reality.

In explaining his approach in his paintings, Forstner says, ‘The Collector’ is the third of three archetypes that are ‘looking for something.’ I like how names and words sound, as they seep into our unconsciousness. The Collector may stand for humor as the ‘art collector.’ What would ‘art’ be in that case – the fact that we need to collect in some way – souvenirs, memories, women, men, caps, cars, whatever?  We go through life by collecting things, whatever they are. We count our birthdays and other events. Collecting is peculiar to human beings. We evaluate constantly our past, our needs and our reactions to them.”

Forstner studied at The Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, the Villa Arson in Nice and The Academy of Fine Arts in Paris.

His work is represented in Foundations and Public Collections in France, Germany, and the US. Among them: The Musee d’Art Moderne (ARC) in Paris, The Musee de Grenoble, The Musee d’Art Moderne et Contemporain in Nice, the Fond National d’Art Contemporarin, the Fond Regional d’Art Contemporarin Alsace, the Fond Regional d’Art Contemporarin Haute – Normandie, Collection Claudine et Jean-Marc Salomon, Collection SACEM, Sammlung Goetz, and the Richard Massey Foundation.

511 West 25th Street, Suite 504
New York, NY 10001

Gallery Hours: Wed-Sat 12-6; July: Wed-Fri 12-6
Opening Reception:
Thursday, May 17, 6-8

Study for an American Archetype-3
Gregory Forstner
Oil on Linen
98 x 78 inches

Past Exhibitions

Gregory Forstner: Study for an American Archetype

The Long Fight for Kawtoolie: Portraits from the Jungles of Burma

America: The Third Century


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