Press Release

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CRG Gallery is pleased to present Los Angeles-based artist Tom LaDuke’s second solo exhibition with the gallery. LaDuke draws references from art history, popular culture, religious imagery and personal memories to create multi-layered objects and paintings that pull back the veil on visual perception and our conception of the real.

In the sculpture Pansy (2014), a white lamb rests quietly on a transparent, hollow table with his front and hind legs bound and his chin resting on the table with eyes downcast. His body’s positioning and his expression are ambiguous; it is unclear if he is alive or dead, if he is at the moment of resignation just prior to slaughter or if he is after it, lying inert and lifeless. The sculpture is a reference to Spanish painter Francisco de Zurbarán’s depiction of Agnus Dei (The Lamb of God) (1635-1640), the animal that allegorically represents Christ’s sacrificial death to save humanity.

Similarly, LaDuke’s paintings reference Old Master works by artists such as Rembrandt, Manet, Velásquez, and Botticelli. When constructing his paintings, LaDuke works in layers, building one source material on top of another with airbrush or thick acrylic strokes, and with an almost photographic precision. Whereas his early work took scenes from his studio or from popular films as their base layer and placed art historical references on the top layer, his new work takes its initial layer from these art historical paintings which are rendered blurredly and then overlaid with impasto brush strokes, technological references and personal anecdotes.

For LaDuke, the artworks referenced in his paintings and his sculptures are simply starting points. In their veiled appearances, the original images become almost invisible—though they might ring the bell of recognition for the viewer, they avoid classification, hovering in the space between cognitive assumption and clear identification, inhabiting the grounds of inferences and suggestions, not definitions. The reflective varnish of the paintings and the sheen of some of the sculptures create an additional disconnect, separating and uniting viewer and object and at the same time distancing the viewer from composite references that make the object whole. It is in this state of cognitive limbo that LaDuke situates his work—a state where our mind senses the reference but may not recall the painting itself, or comes to recognize the subject matter but is simultaneously captivated by the uncanny materiality of the object—and thus continues cycling through the gap between assumption and recognition. 

 

Tom LaDuke received his BA from California State University, Fullerton (1991) and his MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois (1994). LaDuke has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions, including one in 2010 at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia which then traveled to the Weatherspoon Art Museum, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, NC. He has been included in group exhibitions at the Orange County Museum of Art, CA, the Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR, and the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, NC. He is in a number of public collections including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, San Diego, CA, and the Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY. He lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. 

Participating Artists:

Tom LaDuke