Terry Powers | Adam Beris
Terry Powers - Hope Labor
Adam Beris - Rat Trap
May 4th - June 8th
Terry Powers - Hope Labor
Within the book Do What You Love and Other Lies by Miya Tokumitsu, the author defines the concept of “Hope Labor” as a form of work performed under the guise of personal growth and career advancement, yet compensated for a mere fraction of its worth. Tokumitsu realizes that the power of hope is such a powerful motivator that it ensnares individuals within workplaces and systems that prey upon sacrifice and the naive belief that if one sticks it out for long enough they’ll reap the rewards. From the proliferation of adjunct professors, to the all too prevalent unpaid intern–we see just how deeply interwoven the idea of hope labor is within our workplaces and culture at large. Yet in some sense, hasn’t the idea of hope labor always been a part of an artist’s life and practice? As artists aren’t we always working to get better, to distill and get at something more honest and idiosyncratic–all in the hopes of connecting with others?
Terry’s latest body of work picks up from where the artist left off in his last exhibition, 1564 Waller, which used his unique form of documentary painting to explore the day to day existence of his wife and newborn son as they spent the last months in their Cole Valley apartment before relocating to the East Bay. Through Hope Labor, we see the artist and his family literally stretching out in their new space, with Terry’s voracious appetite to capture the spaces and scenes around him providing an intimate portrait of the family’s new life. Observational painting for Powers serves as a way of removing oneself from settling on a style and set of aesthetics, instead choosing to pay attention to one’s surroundings within the moment, providing a sense of discovery within the familiar and a momentary respite from endless worries.
Through these paintings we sense the power vested in our concept of home, that sense of comfort, of security and insulation from the stress and strife of the outside world. Yet at times, we see breaks within this serenity–screens protruding into the painting’s composition carrying transmissions from the hellscape that is our daily newscycle. Views of Trump’s wall intrude within an otherwise calm picture of the family’s home, toys from their son Wally strewn about the floor. In another a young student of Terry’s leans against a table on which a protruding television screen shows an aerial view of the scene after the shooting at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Much like the passages of connecting text that are painted directly over the surfaces of the artist’s paintings, relating everything from philosophy to the artist’s day to day conversations–the screens within Powers’ paintings create an abrupt break in the sense of peace and quiet that predominates the domestic settings. Through this tension, Powers deftly grounds his beautifully tranquil paintings within our chaotic contemporary times–individual stories set against the broader social spectrum, one sphere bleeding into another.
Terry Powers is a painter who lives and works in San Francisco. He received his BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2003 and his MFA from Stanford University in 2013. He teaches at numerous locations around the Bay Area, including San Francisco Art Institute, Stanford, and California College of Art. Powers was a recipient of the Richard Diebenkorn Teaching Fellowship in 2017, and recent exhibitions include BBQLA (Los Angeles, CA); DORF (Austin, TX); Gallery 16 (San Francisco, CA); and LSU Union Art Gallery (Baton Rouge, LA). This marks the artist’s second solo-exhibition with Guerrero Gallery, and over eight years of exhibitions.
Adam Beris - Rat Trap
LA-based painter Adam Beris arrived in his light-bathed studio recently to find that an unknown intruder had been there before him and left in haste. A quick forensic investigation found a series of small non-human footprints meandering across a freshly painted canvas, trailing select hues and even sampling a bit of the colors with a particular attention paid to the verdant greens and earth tones favored by the artist. And though this unknown collaborative transgressor was rarely heard from again, much of the artist’s latest body of work was done with the nagging mystery of the culprit’s identity still at large.
Adam Beris’ lush paintings make use of a sculptural approach to paint application, creating a highly emotive set of glyphs, faces and a semiotic vocabulary all his own. Often organized in neat grids that contrast the gestural goopiness of Beris’s built-up profiles and symbols, the artist’s works employ a vaguely scientific approach to organization and classification not dissimilar to that of Bernd & Hilla Becher’s industrial typologies. An element of collecting pervades the works as the sides of the faces in an Adam Beris painting could closely resemble a cross section of old toys pulled from a flea market stall, yet above that of a mere consumer, Beris paints with a godlike authority in his ability to create and control the population contained within. There is also an undeniable material directness to his paintings as the artist often chooses to apply the medium from tube to surface, allowing for an improvisational freshness contained within each symbolic mark and an arresting quirkiness to each realized profile. Recent additions to the works include such leftfield materials as pom-poms, sandwiched next to sumptuous globs of oil paint, poking fun at any concept of a hierarchy in materials as Beris’ odd creatures pass a side-eyed smile.
Born in Milwaukee, WI in 1987, Adam received a dual degree in Painting and Creative Writing from Kansas City Art Institute in 2009. His work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions across the United States including at Y53, Los Angeles, CA, USA (2018); Fabien Castiner Gallery Los Angeles, CA, USA (2017); The Late Show, Kansas City, MO, USA (2011). Beris was also included in the exhibition Bounding Boundaries at the MCC Longview Cultural Center in Lee’s Summit, MO, USA (2013).