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KENT FINE ART - Mike Cockrill

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Published on Nov 16, 2013

MIKE COCKRILL The Existential Man
November 14, 2013 - January 25, 2014

Kent Fine Art is pleased to present Existential Man, new paintings by
Mike Cockrill. In his most recent body of work, Cockrill breaks into fresh
territory with a series of mordantly witty paintings that mine the artist's
thirty-year practice of drawing, cartooning, and doodling. These
astringent, abbreviated figures are skillfully constructed, and rendered in
a pitch-perfect palette that conveys—in the artist's words—"the earnest
cheerfulness of a therapist's waiting room."

Mike Cockrill has been making conceptually engaged, socially
challenging work since he first began showing in the East Village in the
early 1980s. Cockrill—who grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC, in
the late 50s and early 60s—has a particular affinity with the pop-culture
images of postwar America, and their darker subtexts. A classically
trained painter, Cockrill also has the skills to understand an idiom and
then deftly twist it, literally and conceptually. He has been doing this
from his early cartoons, which are hybrids of suburban cheeriness and
Indian-miniature eroticism, to his later paintings that adopt the cloying
style of 1950s children's book illustrations while exposing their
undercurrent of sexually charged fantasy.

With Existential Man, Cockrill has invented a character who seems to
have stepped out of the 1960s, but who, unlike the confident adman in
his Brooks Brothers suit, is a hapless middle-manager in a short-sleeved
cotton-poly shirt, with a bad buzz cut. Cockrill's deft use of period detail
signals to us what his character is not as much as what he is. He will not
be having martini lunches and rising to the top of the postwar American
dreamscape. Instead, Cockrill's Existential Man is an everyman who
inevitably finds himself in extremis in the midst of mundane everyday
routines, who has no real chance in the land of opportunity, and who still
carries dutifully on.

In conjunction with the Existential Man paintings, in our project room we
will be showing work from Cockrill's The Ink Spots (1997), a series of
drawings in which the artist developed images from random splashes,
drops, and blobs of ink. Cockrill adopts automatism's classic strategy to
access images that investigate the figure of the clown and its
relationship to minstrelsy, as well as its intersection with early depictions
of Mickey Mouse, which themselves had roots in blackface.

For further information, contact
Douglas Walla (dkw@KentFineArt.net) or
Jeanne Marie Wasilik (jmw@KentFineArt.net).

Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 to 6:00.
Music by:
Chill Carrier - FloatingPoint

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