“All things are subject to interpretation; whatever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.” Nietzsche
Padre Gallery is pleased to present Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a show of paintings and drawings by Erik Foss.
Mr. Foss’s work is conceptually driven and inhabits form as a means to present his obsessions with the acts of both making and viewing. In this show Mr. Foss will be exhibiting work in two modes, figurative and abstract, although those characterizations are primarily nominative classifications. In both his Portal series, and Googled image works, we have ingress to vistas that are coated with the patina of half remembered pop culture detritus. The aggregate of signs in the google works, Pac Man, Donald Duck, Dr.Doom, skulls both Misfit and Grateful, Felix the Cat, Mickey the Playboy Jessica Rabbit… wait, what? The stream piles in on itself like memories barely articulated in a rewinding dream loop.
They are all in our head, you know it when you see it. You recognize some because of their cultural ubiquity, but others trigger some moment, vague, mundane, startling. Did I have that Judas Priest shirt? Why was Pepe Le Pew always so sexual? Why do the Mutant Ninja Turtles remind me of my parent’s divorce? Where were you in the summer of your dystopia? The portal works issue cool restraint, there is a Geiger-like stillness, where we hover in some abstracted zone, the ship is abandoned, the planet is empty, mood and menace have a tone, and our gaze is framed, literally. Wait is that rainbow frame from a van my uncle detailed, or those Japanese trading cards I had, was it in a poster at the head shop? In this work memory is triggered less by a direct sign and more by the saturated atmosphere. The shows title comes from a practice.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is an attempt to challenge unhelpful patterns of acceptance, in both thought and memory, it tries to help the subject examine habit, and investigate unarticulated emotional response. The goal is to find a way to develop and author a better owned response, to examine and valorize our control on our landscape of signs and signifiers. Nostalgia can be oppressive; memory can punish and exercise undue control. Foss’s works are aporias for the hierarchies of memory, these are the dub versions, the extended house remix, the director’s final cut.
Habits of reception are reformed. The works challenge his own patterns of seeing, as well as the emotional cargo ship attached to every sign. The viewer can be braced by the juxtapositions, there is an argument framed, and also license is given: examine memories syntax, look into the void, authorize one’s own version. The act of seeing can liberate, it is not “as told to”, so much as “interpreted by”, one can reframe the loops, and restructure tendencies. Articulate from your lens finder, a map that too often seems vaguely distorted and directive. Foss’s practice has been a challenge to his own received notions, brought to you by well, um, whoever is in charge. He has scrubbed and reordered these fragments in a way that imbues his experience with a gasp at the transformative. Tonight there’s gonna be a jailbreak, pass it along.