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Urban Hymns

December 5, 1998 through January 23, 1999


Jessica Fredericks Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of new paintings by Michael Bevilacqua. Mr. Bevilacqua’s first solo show was at this gallery in September of 1997. Since then exhibitions include Painting Now and Forever at the Matthew Marks Gallery and Pat Hearn Gallery, Pop Surrealism at The Aldrich Museum, Ridgefield CT, More Fake, More Real, Yet Ever Closer (curated by Robert Evren) at The Castle Gallery College of New Rochelle, and Accelerator (curated by Godfrey Worsdale and Josephine Lanyon) traveling to the Arnolfini, Southhampton City Gallery, and Oldham Gallery in the U.K.  


Michael Bevilacqua’s paintings are part abstraction, part hard-edged figuration, and pure color. Transient fascinations and long-time passions are rendered in commercial logos and other flat, graphic identifications which the artist takes from the worlds of music, fashion, film, art, and auto racing. These images are often combined in clusters (sometimes entire paintings are reduced to their graphic essence and inserted as images in new paintings), colored in the bright unmodulated colors of muscle cars, and placed in the weird, rhythmic space Bevilacqua creates on canvas. Like passages of music woven together by digital sampling, Bevilacqua’s graphic punch resonates with the familiar and specific while delivering a form and a content that is completely new.


For Bevilacqua, known images act as metaphors to describe intimate, often domestic, always autobiographical issues. This series of paintings began when his wife had their baby, and the images were mostly baby-related--Harold and the Purple Crayon, Willy Wonka, the Matthew Barney Faeries from Cremaster 4 (they reminded him of the Willy Wonka Oompa Loompas). Then the paintings became more about issues between him and his wife. Figures such as the screaming head from Matthew Barney’s Drawing Restraint 7 began to appear with the singer Bjork’s head from the cover of her new album Homogenic. Often he painted these figures featureless, except for their lips--the male figure screaming, the female figure closed and pursed tightly. The title Urban Hymns, is taken from the title of a recent album by the The Verve. The bands logo repeatedly appears in these paintings beneath a pattern of black and orange trees which references the artist’s hometown and a promise of an easier environment to raise baby Leo. Urban Hymns is the often unpleasant reality of New York. In one painting a child’s bubble gun is shooting a hole through the screaming head. In another, the two heads are lying on a pattern that appears to be Pucci bedsheets. Hot rod flames rise up to the top of the canvas like cigarette smoke. Across Bjork’s head is written “Velvet” from the VU logo. This painting is titled “Do You Remember the First Time?”


Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11am to 6pm. For further information and/or photographs please contact the gallery by telephone at (212) 633-6555 or fax at (212) 367-9502.