Curated by Katie Kahn
May 14 – June 18, 2011
Opening Reception Saturday, May 14, 5 – 8 pm
Kruger Gallery Chicago is proud to present, “I All Alone Beweep My Outcast State,” featuring Joel Dean, Philip Hanson, Michael Knierim, David A. Parker, Mike Rea, John Sparagana, and Ben Stone. Elizabethan poet and playwright William Shakespeare’s extraordinary Sonnet #29 is a profound expression of the transformation of consciousness from a deep dissatisfaction, jealousy, and self-loathing, based on suspicions of inadequacy, to a sense of completeness and joy unconnected to any external change in circumstance. Guest Curator Katie Kahn, a
painter herself, has thought long and hard about the internal triggers that make such shifts possible. Kahn has
assembled a group of artists for whom this paradigm is particularly potent. White males who, by virtue of their status within a societally-constructed hierarchy, are at once vulnerable and empathetic to the cycle of iconization and disgrace that are inevitable byproducts of political life and popular culture.
Considering outcast broadly to include both outcast in a personal sense (that of the natural world) and an external one (as in lost social status), the work in this exhibition gives focus to the artist working from the “outside” – looking inward for contextualization and understanding, and, like the sonnet, finding a transformation by bringing an internal contemplation outward. Each artist provokes change via his own hand, the work laden with emotion and leavened with notes of redemptive humor. The figures in Joel Dean’s paintings inhabit haunting natural environments, and exhibit lush, inner lives even as they are socially isolated or personally misunderstood. Philip Hanson’s operatic, radiant paintings begin with texts, weaving elaborate visual equivalents of their spiritual content; these highly personal works were the initial catalyst for this show. Michael Knierim’s exquisitely-crafted works are both searing projections of the pathos of marginalization and incisive critiques of the socio-political structures that require these radical shifts in status. The photographs from David A. Parker’s escape series juxtapose an urban dweller’s conceptual egress from the perceived confinement and cultural isolation of suburban life even as actual escape is impossible. In Mike Rea’s In the Wild Blue Wander, an oversized, flaccid spacesuit awaits a call to action while humming the quintessential anthem of solitary male aspiration and wanderlust. In John Sparagana’s transformational works, he breaks down and remixes images from mass media, an intervention that shifts the terms of their reception from an informational state to a poetic or critical state. Ben Stone’s unabashed and alluring relief busts of ambiguously-gendered women, borrowed from urban signage and other popular culture sources, remind us of the power of the fetish to undo a male’s best efforts to conform to external, class-bound expectations. In the end, it is the realization that whatever the state of “outcast,” for the artist, identity is so centered on art-making that any threat to it heightens the sense of extremity.
When in disgrace with Fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Feature’d like him, like him with friends possess’d,
Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least,
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state
(Like to the lark at break of day arising)
From sullen earth signs hymns at heaven’s gate,
For thy sweet love rememb’red such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
Kruger Gallery is committed to exhibiting works of art that support the avant-garde ideal that art can lead to political and social change beyond commercial considerations. For more information, please visit