May 2011 cover artist and Los Angeles based fine artist, Eric Yahnker is set to open his first NYC solo show, Virgin Birth 'N' Turf, at The Hole tonight, September 4. One of the most talented drawers we can think of, with meticulous details of some of the most innane pop-culture topics, Yahnker's notes his new works "provides a mad lab where I get to swab the inner-cheek and place under a microscope a petri dish of the contemporary American experience in the shadow of another blisteringly contentious Presidential election, analyzing the gray matter and microorganisms which make us tick as well as the flesh-eating bacteria which plague us."
Here is the press release:
The Hole is proud to announce the first New York solo show by LA based artist Eric Yahnker. For the past two years Yahnker has been preparing his massive drawings and sculptures for this exhibition, and it represents the culmination of his recent explorations. The works in this show range from meticulous, two-foot colored pencil and graphite drawings to towering ten-foot works on paper; from tiny sculptural interventions to massive three dimensional arrangements. The pieces en masse form a lyrical and disturbing poem – which takes the title Virgin Birth ‘N’ Turf – about the state of the union and our contemporary American moment.
Yahnker is a virtuosically talented drawer who choses to take densely layered political commentary as his subject matter. The often large-scale pieces are visually seductive and can easily be appreciated at the purely superficial level, but after ingesting the title and contemplating the image for a bit, many more upsetting and controversial ideas begin to emerge. The works are elaborately planned and constructed to hold up to even the most intense conceptual scrutiny. There is a wealth of information and excitement to be had the more you meditate on each work.
In the words of the artist: “Virgin Birth ‘N’ Turf provides a mad lab where I get to swab the inner-cheek and place under a microscope a petri dish of the contemporary American experience in the shadow of another blisteringly contentious Presidential election, analyzing the gray matter and microorganisms which make us tick as well as the flesh-eating bacteria which plague us.
From celebrity politicians to real-life celebrity villains, race-baiting and birther-ism, faith and cultivation, zeal and apathy, enterprise and compassion, authenticity and existentialism, sex and patriotism, desecration of aptly-branded canned goods, and hot dishes with bad vices, I serve only to plumb the murky depths which lie below the surface, rather than hoist ideological flags or provide solutions. In other words, I intend Virgin Birth ‘N’ Turf to revel in tragicomic frustration, laughing equally at as with its all-too-complex subject matter—as all good satire should.”
To get a sense of Yahker’s humour you can check the titles of the pieces: “Talcum X”, “Chili Fries Without a Face” or “I See Sinai, I See France” suggest the type of culturally challenging concoctions this artist cooks up. His interest in Jewish history is suggested by pieces like “Star of David Lee Roth” or “Star of Davis Junior”. And you don’t need to read an essay about works like “West Side Story” because the artist has drawn it for us—and very, very well. His textual works occasionally do spell it out for us a bit, just in a very odd way: drawings of people stand in for letters, as a repeated image of Bill Clinton may suggest the work spells out “INHALE”; while Whitney Houston’s visage fills in the work most likely titled “EXHALE”.
“Drawing is truth. There really are no tricks. It’s just you and the sharp end of a stick playin’ the dozens.” Eric describes his approach as the straight man in a slapstick comedy, and nothing is funnier than a dramatic actor delivering absurd lines as if his life depended on it. He sees his works as living, breathing comic panels, visual poetry or glorified political cartoons. Many works pun on the semantic difference between similar words, or the linguistic difference between similar images, and occasionally both. His show is stand up comedy done by hand.
Eric Yahnker is a California artist working primarily in sculpture and drawings. After studying journalism at USC, Yahnker went on to the California Art Institute where he received his BFA in animation. He then proceeded to work on animation for media properties including Seinfeld, South Park, and MADtv. Since 2008 when he entered the art world, Yahnker has been featured in solo shows including a 2011 show at Kunsthalle L.A., solo shows at Ambach & Rice and Jeanroc Dard in Paris, in addition to participating in group shows at venues including Anna Kustera, Roberts and Tilton and Guerro Gallery. This is his first solo exhibition in New York City.
Virgin Birth 'N' Turf
September 4—October 6, 2012
The Hole, NYC