Martin Wittfooth: The Passions - Lyons Wier Gallery
542 West 24th Street - 212-242-6220
New York, NY 10011
Description: “The Passions” - October 13 - November 12, 2011; Artist’s Reception: Thursday, October 13, 2011, 6-8pm. Lyons Wier Gallery - 542 West 24th St., New York, NY 10011. Gallery Hours: Tues - Sat, 11-6pm. Nearest subway: C,E @ 23rd St & 8th Ave. “It is well for his peace that the saint goes to his martyrdom. He is spared the sight of the horror of his harvest.” – Oscar Wilde The Passions, Martin Wittfooth’s first solo show in New York, is a contemporary exploration of sainthood, martyrdom, and religiosity that still dominates the ideological landscape of the modern world, and displays the prerequisite acts most often performed to attain various states of veneration such as violence, self-sacrifice, and suffering. In Western philosophy, “The Passions” refer to strong biologically driven emotional states that seduce one away from reason. Yet the term’s origin is to be found in the Latin word, “passio”, which means, simply, “suffering”. Consequently, the term is connected to the most famous act of martyrdom: the crucifixion of Christ. Devotional paintings and sculptures from the last millennia have presented us with multitudes of examples in which “The Passions”, in both their original and more carnal manifestations, make simultaneous appearances. Wittfooth gleaned inspiration for The Passions from devotional artwork from different parts and eras in Europe, most notably the 17th & 18th century Flemish masters, from various versions of the Pieta and the sculptures of Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680). Wittfooth successfully emulates the iconography of old but his meticulous paintings are laced with symbolism and allusions to contemporary themes, issues, and fears. The artist states, “a reflection on such beliefs as the Rapture or Islamic jihad will compel one to admit that this archaic combination is yet alive and well in our modern age. By exploring the double-meaning of intellectual desertion and fatal suffering still upheld and glorified by faith, The Passions offers a criticism of blind, destructive piety.” Although void of the human form, Wittfooth represents mankind via the man-made and/or manufactured landscapes that are so prevalent to the vocabulary of his work. Animals are the main subjects in Wittfooth’s paintings, serving as symbolic representatives or bystanders of the dangerous, destructive and sometime absurd ramifications of religious devotion. By engaging both the eye and the mind of the viewer, this “Conceptual Realism” sets forth an invitation to enjoy not only the aesthetic deftness of the work, but also the political and conceptual content of the composition. Martin Wittfooth received his MFA from The School of Visual Arts in New York City and has exhibited extensively in North America and Europe. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including cover features in books and magazines such as New American Paintings and Hi Fructose. Martin Wittfooth lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.