It's a Great Time to be Alive: Henry Gunderson's New Solo @ Derek Eller Gallery NYC
Last weekend, Derek Eller Gallery opened It’s a Great Time to be Alive, the new solo exhibition of paintings by Henry Gunderson. The show features seven idiosyncratic subjects that depict the nature of human perception and experience along with the commodification of human identity.
Gunderson’s self-portrait, It’s Hard to See from Where I’m Standing, depicts multiple iterations of himself organized in a receding pattern. In each photorealistic image of himself, his eyes are covered by the feet of the next image. With a distressed surface reminiscent of a vintage record, this painting serves as the album cover for the exhibition, and the individual tracks follow.
Accentuating the commercialization of diversity, a group portrait of shiny plastic American Girl dolls represents the spectrum of ethnicities and abilities and their archetypal portrayal in American media. Two works incorporating butterflies juxtapose this symbol of transformation and beauty with imagery from pulp western illustrations; once rough and masculine cowboys are rendered in garish make up and drag. A pair of hyper-masculine paunchy wrestlers are scissored together in an unexpected arrangement. An intimate study of high-tech motorcycle gloves, patchworked with an array of sewn panels, become a highly fetishized commercial product.
Simultaneously humorous, uncanny, disturbing, and painstakingly accurate, Gunderson’s seemingly incongruous works proffer a series of rhetorical viewpoints without providing definitive answers. Resonating from the recesses of the collective unconscious, they are meditations on and alterations to the image-saturated culture that is increasingly ingrained in the human psyche.
It’s a Great Time to be Alive is on view at Derek Eller Gallery in New York City through February 2, 2020.