Press Release

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CRG Gallery is pleased to present POTUS, Brian Tolle’s third solo exhibition with the gallery. The acronym POTUS, or President Of The United States, first appeared in early telegraph code.

As his Irish Hunger Monument (located at Battery Park City) fashions a new paradigm for public memorials, Tolle deciphers for this exhibition the multi-layered tradition of Presidential commemorative depiction.

Within each sculpture, Tolle conflates a president’s public persona, iconography and associated ephemera. The artist’s central interest is to demonstrate how these cultural relics are integrated into popular memory and, eventually, the consumer market.

Of the men who have served as President of the United States, Tolle focuses on some of the most revered and reviled. For each presidential depiction, Tolle applies components that echo vestiges of America’s craft, industry and ever-shifting global reputation, emblemized by each POTUS.

A strand of glass and lettered beads spills out of a clear acrylic facsimile of Jean- Antoine Houdon’s bust of George Washington. The letters spell out a transcript of Washington’s second inaugural address to the nation; this strand of beads terminates with a Purple Heart medal, originally created and designed by Washington to reward wounded Revolutionary War soldiers.

A rubber mask of Nixon popularized in the film Dog Day Afternoon, rests atop a Uher 5000 tape recorder, the same model made famous by his erased recorded conversations. The imported rubber mask and German technology reflect the changing global marketplace occurring during Nixon’s time in office.

Barack Obama’s “coif” is comprised of a collector’s set of miniature presidential figurines of the men that precede him, a visual metaphor of the historic burden he carries.

The sculptures are titled according to each President’s numeral place in succession: No. 1, No. 3, No. 16, No. 34, No. 35, No. 37, No. 40, No. 44, respectively: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Barack Obama.

The carnival funhouse of today’s “entertainment politics” offers a perfect milieu for Tolle’s objects with their mix of anecdotal humor and historical fact.

Brian Tolle’s public works include: the Irish Hunger Memorial, Battery Park City, NYC, NY, a one-half acre sculpture on the Hudson River, reshaping the landscape with a full-scale replica of a hillside Irish farm desiccated by the potato famine; Threshold, The New School, New York, NY, 2006; Stronghold, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 2007; Simnai Dirdro (Twisted Chimney), Rhymney, Wales, UK, 2010; Remembering Walter H. Deubner – the inventor of the shopping bag, Cerritos, CA, 2010; Origin, University of Houston, Houston, TX, 2014; Outflow, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, 2015; Pagent, Brooklyn, NY, installation spring 2016.

 

For more information, contact Dina Bizri at 212 229 2766 or dina@crggallery.com

image: No. 44, 2012, mixed media, 74 x 14 x 14 in.

Selected Work

No. 37, 2011
Mixed media
39 x 15 x 14 in. (99.1 x 38.1 x 35.56 cm)
BT8269

No. 16, 2012-2016
Mixed media
71 x 45 x 60 in. (180.3 x 114.3 x 152.4 cm)
BT8549

No. 44, 2012
Mixed media
76 x 16 x 16 in. (193.04 x 40.6 x 40.6 cm)
BT8550

No. 1 (Second Inaugural Address), 2012
Mixed media
16 1/2 x 12 x 12 in. (41.9 x 30.5 x 30.5 cm)
BT8557

Winners and Losers, 2016
Vintage presidential campaign buttons on canvas in two parts
45 1/2 x 91 x 2 in. (115.6 x 231.1 x 5.1 cm)
14 X 14 X 2 inches
40 X 40 X 2 inches
BT8558

No. 3, 2012
Mixed media
3 x 13 1/2 x 9 in. (7.6 x 34.3 x 22.9 cm)
BT8559

No. 34, 2012
Mixed media
15 x 30 x 7 in. (38.1 x 76.2 x 17.78 cm)
BT8560

No. 35, 2012
Mixed media
89 x 66 x 51 in. (226.1 x 167.6 x 129.5 cm)
BT8561

Spirits ’76, 2016
mixed media
29 x 51 x 7 1/2 in. (73.7 x 129.5 x 19.1 cm)
BT9464

“A Time For Choosing”, 2016
mixed media
17 x 7 x 36 in. (43.2 x 15.2 x 91.4 cm)
BT9465

Installation Shots

Participating Artists:

Brian Tolle