Fredericks & Freiser is pleased to announce an exhibition of John Wesley’s Bumstead paintings (1974 to present). Appropriating the classic Chic Young characters of Dagwood and Blondie Bumstead, Wesley has created a remarkably prescient body of work whose subject is no less than the American psyche. While many artists of his generation have used the popular image to explore the cultural landscape, Wesley has employed a comic strip-style and a compositional rigor to make deeply personal, often hermetic paintings that strike at the core of our most primal fears, joys, and desires. As Linda Norden writes in Parkett #62:
“The “Bumstead” paintings – whether detailing scenes of domestic misunderstanding, zooming in on off-camera moments of bafflement or simply scanning empty halls and walls for private memories – are excruciatingly specific representations of the gulfs between feeling and comprehension… smart, funny, startling, irreverently empathetic, and often heartbreaking, they are a welcome antidote to more laborious discourse.”
This is the first exhibition to focus on this major series. Thirteen paintings will be on view, including the first canvas painted in the series titled “The Bumsteads” on loan
from the Donald Judd Foundation and the most recent painting “Bumstead and Dead Geisha” completed in December, 2006. A hardcover catalogue with a major essay by Robert Hobbs will accompany the exhibition.
About the Artist
John Wesley (b. 1928) has had numerous one person museum exhibitions including PS1/MoMA, New York; Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge; Haus Lange, Krefeld; Stedlijk Museum, Amsterdam, and Portikus, Frankfurt. A permanent installation of his paintings is on view at Donald Judd’s Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas. Recently, he has been included in several group exhibitions including “Full House,” Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; ”After Cezanne,” Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; “Funny Cuts: Cartoons and Comics in Contemporary Art,” Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart. He has had one person gallery shows at Gagosian Gallery, London; Tomio Koyama, Tokyo; and Zwirner & Wirth, New York. He was the 2005 recipient of the Skowhegan Medal for Painting and the flagship artist for The Armory Show, 2006. This will be his seventh solo show at Fredericks & Freiser.