America. Land of the free and the ones we’ve elected. For his second show at CRG Gallery on West 22nd Street, Brian Tolle fixated and created his work on the specific subject of the US Presidents on what impressions have been formed about them culturally and the ongoing prestige of the next POTUS (President of the United States) building on legacies of the ones that preceded.
Arte Fuse chose to cover this show when we came across the cover photo of a white porcelain bust of Abraham Lincoln with red, white, blue ribbons bursting out of its eyes. It was an indelible impression and graphically strong. It immediately called to mind the image of Lincoln who was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. At close range and quite violent in the power of its imagery, the piece No.16 (being all artworks were titled based on the historical order of each president) had the visual cues clearly constructed. The very words of Lincoln’s two inaugural addresses were written on the ribbons. His penchant for masterful words proved to be a tragic catalyst, which resulted into his assassination. Tolle ingeniously crafted an anchor piece that literally blows your mind.
Tolle had worked on this series for quite some time and it’s an election year. A shrewd move or not, his works are iconic explorations on what we place our impression and the cultural relevance of electing a President that will lead the nation. Besides the Americana aspect of the Spirit of ’76 with small hand blown liquor bottles with etched Presidential Portraits as Christmas ornaments and the tiny figurines decorating the head of Barack Obama, Tolle skillfully fashioned this oeuvre with gravitas and an unwavering eye to how we’ve quantified our presidents. Yes, they are figureheads but they are certainly not impassive as their thoughts and words are vitriol that breaks the stalwart mold. Also on the milieu of works are the two circular canvases featuring “Winners and Losers” containing Presidential campaign buttons. The names of the could have been are as impactful as the ones who are winners. Such is the political culture this country has devised where winning is tougher and held at the highest esteem while losing is the easy road to oblivion littered with hordes of casualties.
Tolle really makes us think of the man we elect into office and who acts as the Commander in Chief. Is he just a figurehead? Where does the man really stand? Do we hang on to every word? Art really functions as a reflection of ideals created and made in the blink of an eye.
Brian Tolle: Commander in Chief / On View: October 11 – November 10, 2012
Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Saturday (10 am – 6 pm)
CRG Gallery. 548 West 22nd Street. New York, NY 10011
art review by: Oscar A. Laluyan
images from CRG Gallery courtesy of the artist
event photos by: Max Noy