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Andrew Lenaghan Whiting and Porgie, 1998
Andrew Lenaghan Two Whiting, 2002
Robert Arneson Balderdash-dash, 1978
Joyce Treiman Untitled (Wrestler), 1983
Kiki Smith Ginzer, 2000
Robert Motherwell Untitled, 1975
Peter Saul Oedipus Junior, 1983
James Valerio Frances, 1974
Mel Chin The Elementary Object (pipe bomb), 1993
Don Colley Fuel, 2002
Don Colley Reel, 2003
Don Colley Marsyas, 2003
Robert Arneson Crazy Nuke, 1986
Joyce Treiman Untitled (Roman Head), 1984
Robert Mapplethorpe Ajitto, 1981
Installation View
Show Announcement
Show Announcement (continued)

Press Release

During February and March, George Adams Gallery will present In the Eye of the Beholder, a group exhibition featuring work by Robert Arneson, Lynda Benglis, Don Colley, Mel Chin, Robert Gober, Nancy Grossman, Andrew Lenaghan, Robert Mapplethorpe, Peter Saul, Kiki Smith, Joyce Treiman, James Valerio, and Joel-Peter Witkin.

In the Eye of the Beholder engages ideas of beauty through a paradoxical affinity with the distasteful and the abject.   Simultaneously compelling and disturbing, the works included in the show explicitly and/or implicitly explore the seduction of the grotesque. For example, the ceramic sculpture Balderdash-dash (1978) by Robert Arneson depicts a self-portrait bust of the artist as a clown. Making an exaggerated face, the artist's pink and fleshy tongue emerges from beneath the tightly fitting "mask."

Realism plays a distinct role in the careful balance between seduction and repulsion. For example, Robert Gober's untitled drawing of a bluntly abbreviated leg wearing an ordinary shoe appears intimately real, each leg hair carefully drawn. Similarly, Andrew Lenaghan's detailed still life, Whiting and Porgie (1998) presents a seemingly post-coital moment between two fish. And, in the life-size painting Frances (1974) by James Valerio, an elderly overweight woman sits nude in her boudoir. The painful attention to the figure's pock marked flesh and the clashing patterns of the room creates an overt psychological tension.

Other works subvert traditional ideas of beauty through socially taboo subjects. Nancy Grossman's beautifully crafted leather head exploits the suggestion of S culture while asserting a very formal sculptural presence.  In the same way, Robert Mapplethorpe's pristine black and white photograph of a male nude is equally attentive to the formal qualities of the figure as well as to the erotic nature of the imagery.  

In contrast, Peter Saul's work pushes uneasy subject matter to visual extremes.  Rendered in cartoon fashion, the painting Oedipus Junior a large-scale canvas from 1983 depicts the artist mutilating himself with a chain saw. Joel-Peter Witkin relies on the unsettling effects of incorporating a cadaver limb into the carefully arranged still-life Ana Akhmatova (1999).  The purposefully aged photograph is at once haunting and perverse.

Other works include the cast silver wall sculpture Net II  (1999) by Lynda Benglis that resembles a mass of tangled intestines; a new pen and ink drawing by Don Colley; Kiki Smith's Ginzer, an etching made from a post-mortem tracing of the artist's beloved cat; Mel Chin's seemingly innocuous sculpture The Elementary Object (1993) which is in fact a "pipe" bomb encased in steel (with padlock and key); and Joyce Treiman's small-scale watercolor depicting a decomposing skull adorned in Roman headgear.

Exhibition Checklist

1. Robert Arneson
Balderdash-dash, 1978
glazed ceramic
33 1/2 x 20 x 20 inches
RAs 114

2. Lynda Benglis
Nine Spot Field, 1999
nine individual silver works
dimensions variable
LBs 1

3. Joel-Peter Witkin
Beauty Has Three Nipples, 1998
silver gelatin print, ed. 6/12
36 x 24 inches
JPWh 2

4. Peter Saul
Oedipus Junior, 1983
acrylic, oil/canvas
90 x 72 inches
PSp 39

5. Joel-Peter Witkin
Anna Akhmatova, 1998
toned silver gelatin print
ed. 6/12
24 x 36 inches
JPWh 1

6. James Valerio
Frances, 1974
oil on canvas
86 x 72 inches
JVp 15

7. Robert Gober
Untitled, 1999
black ink on paper
6 x 4 inches
RGod 1
Collection of Neal and Graciela Meltzer

8. Mel Chin
The Elementary Object (pipe bomb), 1993
mixed media, ed. 2/13
3 1/2 x 10 x 12 3/4
MCs 11

9. Kiki Smith
Bird Skeleton, 2000
etching, ed. 23/24
12 x 12 inches
KSr 2

10. Robert Gober
Bag of Donuts, 1989
acid free cut paper, dough, synthetic resin
11 x 6 x 6 1/2 inches
RGos 1
Collection of Marvin and Alice Kosmin

11. Don Colley
Fuel, 2002
scratch board, colored plexiglass, handmade wood frame
9 1/2 x 12 1/8 inches
DCp 6

12. Don Colley
Reel, 2003
scratch board, handmade hardwood frame
6 x 6 inches
DCd 4

13. Don Colley
Marsyas, 2003
scratch board, handmade hardwood frame
7 x 6 3/4 inches
DCd 3

14. Nancy Grossman
No Name, 1968
mixed media assemblage
2 parts: 15 x 17 x 10,
10 x 6.25 x 5.5 base
NGs 1

15. Robert Mapplethorpe
Ajitto, 1981
gelatin silver print
ed. 7/15
20 x 16 inches
RoMah 1

16. Joyce Treiman
Untitled, 1983
graphite on paper
19 x 12 3/8 inches
JTd 32

17. Robert Arneson
Crazy Nuke, 1986
glazed ceramic, chalk,
wood base
82 x 27 x 29 inches
RAs 116  

18. Joyce Treiman
Untitled (Roman Head), 1984
graphite, colored pencil on paper
17 x 14 inches
JTd 31

19. Andrew Lenaghan
Whiting and Porgie, 1998
oil on panel
9 1/2 x 23 3/4 inches
AnLp 214

20. Andrew Lenaghan
Two Whiting, 2002
oil on panel
8 x 23 inches
AnLp 344

21. Kiki Smith
Ginzer, 2000
etching, ed. 18/24
22 x 31 inches
KSr 1