Sheesh: Nat Meade Opens 7th Show @ Froelick Gallery in Portland
Exactly one year since his last solo showcase, Nat Meade returns home to Portland, where he grew up, for a solo exhibition with Froelick Gallery. Enjoying an enduring relationship since 2005, Meade presents his seventh solo show with the gallery, introducing a selection of new work from an ongoing series of allegorical paintings.
For Sheesh, Meade presents a body of mostly small-scale works, where he questions the archetypal role of a male model. Building a narrative around the recognizable trope of square-jawed visage, he places subjects, often adorned with a beard, cigarettes or sunglasses, in unexpected surroundings or situations, creating interesting juxtapositions. Immersed in flower petals, grass or leaves, pouring tears, or simply resting on a branch, these musings successfully break down the macho concepts.
Meade's images reflect on familiar thoughts and struggles from first-hand observations. "Inwardly or personally, the paintings are reflections on my own experiences in fatherhood and adulthood, this feeling that things happen to me, and I am unprepared and somewhat incompetent, not knowing how best to respond. Outwardly the work takes on ideas of identity, masculinity, and privilege. How do we responsibly exist, what does this mean for myself and my sons? Perhaps passivity is the only logical response?" Sometimes eliciting melancholy, the artist's characters evoke empathy, and the work spans a range of emotions, shifting between sadness, absurdity, and humor.
Using a limited palette of earthy green and brown shades, Meade explores the relationship between the main subject and his surroundings. "The space in the paintings is shallow, and I played around with “things” (flower petals, smoke, raindrops, tears, and flakes of matter) floating across the picture plane and obstructing the figure," the artist explains. With the largest work showcased at 20-by-16 inch, he crafts an intimate presentation in which smaller works tell the story of his intricate and dedicated practice. "Despite the small scale, I spent a lot of time on this work, trying to get everything I could out of the 12-by-9 inch format. I did a lot of overpainting and reworking and it shows, the surfaces are textured and intricate," Meade says of his process, which results in rich and delicate textures that accent the fragility, intimacy and emotions.
Additionally, Meade will release Punch, a limited-edition box-set he worked on with Tod Lippy and the Esopus Foundation. Available in an edition of only 13 examples, the release consists of a wooden cigar box containing one signed casein-on-paper original artwork by the artist, along with 14 giclée prints of other works printed on hand-trimmed archival rag paper to approximate the look and feel of the originals. Punch is available for purchase, here. These images are accompanied by Flower Duet, a personal essay by Ames Varos written especially for the edition and signed by the author, in the form of a 16-page foil-stamped chapbook. The edition will be released via Picture Room on Thursday, December 12th. –Sasha Bogojev