OUTSOURCE SHOW

PAINTINGS BY NON-PAINTER ARTISTS

February 24 — March 23, 2016

Werkartz | Los Angeles


 
Alexander Tarrant Mona Lisa Forgery with No Special Access Oil on Canvas, 2016 

Alexander Tarrant
Mona Lisa Forgery with No Special Access
Oil on Canvas, 2016 

 

 

PRESS

 

"The idea prompts viewers to rethink the line between concept and final product, or in this case, the art and the artist."

VICE | THE CREATOR'S PROJECT

 

 

"Welcome to the world of modern — really modern — art, defined by robot painters and outsourced creativity."

OZY | RISING STARS

 

 

"In this show, there’s a lot gleaned about cultural differences in terms of individualism vs. the worker, the nature of art production in the U.S., and what realistic painting looks like, bringing to light some surprising conversations."

CRAVE | ART

 

 

Outsource Show Exhibit Entry Alexander Tarrant Wall Text Acrylic on Concrete via TaskRabbit, 2016 

Outsource Show Exhibit Entry

Alexander Tarrant
Wall Text
Acrylic on Concrete via TaskRabbit, 2016 


 

INTRODUCTION

BY ANNIE MALCOLM
 

I met Mr. Zhang on a sticky afternoon in June outside his studio in Dafen Village; the site is a common one, a painter on a stool in the street working. Walking through the small streets of the village with Leo, the liaison between Tarrant and Zhang, I approached a red polo-tee clad Mr. Zhang busy painting a hyper-real Barack Obama. Laid out before him was everything he needed to make both Obama and the pieces you see here in OUTSOURCE SHOW—oil paint, brushes, canvas, easel, iPad. 

Dafen Village in Shenzhen is China’s oil painting village where paintings are made to be shipped all over the world and hung in hotels, sold in stores and on the streets outside museums. The village, a short trip by subway or taxi from Shenzhen, is a highly concentrated assemblage of studios that double as retail sites, art supply shops, painters at work and their children playing in the lanes, and thousands of oil on canvas paintings—copies of other paintings, copies of photographs, and original work. There are also places to buy jewelry, clothes, and carved seals, but the overwhelming sensation there is created precisely by paintings and the brightly colored world they build. 
Dafen is a story of spectacular scale; within China’s newest city, with its hyper-modern skyline and fast growing economy, Dafen is a small, bounded village, densely packed by stacks upon stacks of paintings and the hands that make them. Despite years of international attention and Chinese government intervention, Dafen retains its magical urbanity, a kind of condensed rainbow sprawl, a mountain of work.
 
Tarrant, having heard about the Chinese art village in 2007, went to Dafen in 2014 and put in orders with two painters to compare results. The work was great, and not great, and it all delighted him. There was a magic in seeing an image go from a cell phone or JPG to oil paint on canvas.  The idea for OUTSOURCE SHOW came from the belief that the best artists and creative minds Tarrant knew were not all painters, or even visual artists, and the desire to have these minds exhibited in a fine art exhibition setting. This becoming, and the outsourcing of their ideas to the Chinese art village, at the root of the show, are forms out of place, translations of some kinds of media and value into other kinds of media and value. The interviews with Mr. Zhang, excerpts of which accompany the individual paintings, represent a concrete, linguistic translation, and in that, reflect on the core impulse behind Tarrant’s vision. What gets made and unmade in this becoming? Many painting services offer modification and beautification, answering prompts like “make this person look younger.” Brian Christian took this up and had the painter create his dream office, full of photos of family, a painter busy making portraiture of him at work and views of the Golden Gate Bridge, and lacking in computer cords and clutter. For Linke’s piece, interpretation was left to the painter, who was given words and asked to make pictures. By using Google images to generate templates, he employed a third party, performing a second outsourcing, and made reference to our visual word as it is mediated by the Internet, which creates a glossary of word-image associations for us. 

OUTSOURCE SHOW was a new project for Mr. Zhang. Had he never copied photographs before? No. Had he never taken orders from an American client? No. 

What made this work novel for Zhang was either the ideas behind them, as in the case of Linke’s and Christian’s prompts, or the content of the images themselves—full of collage, inside jokes, cultural referents, meta-linguistic devices, computer graphics, families and friends of the participating artists, and strange moments of urban encounter. The oddity of some of these images feels in sync with the Trans-Pacific loop of their conception, production and consumption. 

OUTSOURCE SHOW urges viewers to re-think the line between concept and materiality, the visual and the meaningful, the work and the worker. These paintings are both here and there, located in a landscape somewhere between Los Angeles, California and Dafen, Guangdong, populated by economic relationships, psychological connectedness, ideas lost in translation and found in reiteration. What comes through amidst the bridge between these worlds is the humor, the delight, the love, the darkness, the eroticism, the self consciousness, and the delusions and fantasies, of the seventeen artists exhibited.

David OReilly
Pendleton Ward
Aesop Rock
Rob Sonic
Money Mark
Jason Woliner
Brian Christian
Rose Linke
Michael Langan
Tim Reckart
Matt Bennett
Brian Ash
Grant Dekernion
Johnny Dunn
Lisa Rieffel
Najeeb Tarazi
Alexander Tarrant
with writing by Annie Malcolm

 

 

 

THE SHOW

Below, each work from the original exhibition, and the accompanying text that was mounted on the wall.

The conversational exchanges are between anthropologist Annie Malcolm, Mr. Zhang the painter, and occasionally Leo, a local manufacturing consultant in Shenzhen who facilitated and translated the orders. Annie visited Zhang's studio with Leo as the art production was nearing completion.

 

Alexander Tarrant
Silent Mode
Oil on Canvas
21 x 25 inches

Zhang: I don’t like Kim Jong-Un.

 

 

Alexander Tarrant
Google Images Mondrian
Oil on Canvas
24 x 18 inches

Zhang: These are beautiful. These colors.

 

 

Alexander Tarrant
Something More Famous II
Oil on Canvas
24 x 20 inches

Annie: What do you think of this? Do you recognize them? (Bey and Jay Z)

Zhang: No.

Annie: Do you recognize her? (Mona Lisa)

Zhang: Mona Lisa.

Annie: But you don’t know her?

Zhang: No, who is she?

Leo: She’s Beyonce, an American singer.

Zhang: Oh, I see... I don’t know.

 

 
 

Alexander Tarrant
Something More Famous III
Oil on Canvas
24 x 20 inches

Zhang: For this one I focused on the Mona Lisa, the guy taking a selfie put Mona Lisa in the frame on purpose.

 

 
 

Alexander Tarrant
Google Earth Rouen, Monet Style
Oil on Canvas
20 x 25 inches

Zhang: For this one, Alex gave me a reference for the style so I just copied it.

 

 
 

Alexander Tarrant
Stock Portrait
Oil on Canvas
20 x 24 inches

Zhang: I like this design very much. My area of expertise is portraiture, and this design is a portrait of a person with some special lettering added.

 

 
 

Alexander Tarrant
Quake Skin
Oil on Canvas
21 x 25 inches

Zhang: This is very special, and the person has been deliberately distorted to look bigger.

 

 
 

Pendleton Ward
Walking Desk
Oil on Canvas
20 x 24 inches

Zhang: I duplicated the style from the reference provided.

 

 
 

Aesop Rock, Rob Sonic
Gangster Heaven
Oil on Canvas
25 x 21 inches

Annie: This is also from a computer. This means “is there heaven for a gangster?’

Zhang: Who’s the gangster?

Annie: Who do you think?

Zhang: The dog as the gangster I think is best.

 

 
 

Brian Christian
By ______ (Your Name) and Brian Christian
Oil on Canvas
20 x 24 inches

 

View Christian's Original Instructions for the painter (PDF)

 

Annie: Let’s look at Brian’s… the one of the writer…

Zhang:The one with the mom and the dad… that one we spent so much time thinking about… We discussed what to do, how to make it look… Racked our brains

The mock-up on the iPad has the Norman Rockwell “Triple Self Portrait” Brian sent in the examples instead of the painter painting himself.

Annie: But this should be you!

Zhang: Who this is is not important. Who this is is not important! You won’t see it. What’s important is this (the office, Brian writing, the wall behind). The first thing you should see is the wall, also the family (said in English in the middle of a Chinese sentence), and Brian here, and at the same time, painting him.

Annie: Do you know they are boyfriend and girlfriend?

Zhang: Rose and Brian?

Annie: Yes! Look. The photo on the wall in Brian’s is of Rose, his girlfriend, who sent the other one with the words… So why did you do it this way?

Zhang: This is Brian’s library. The books are important. And the window with the bridge, and then, he really likes family (again, English word) so we put the pictures of them on the wall. And he really likes books, so we added some books here.

Annie: Why didn’t you put yourself here? (back to the Rockwell)

Zhang: It doesn’t matter! You won’t see me! It’s my back.

Annie: When you paint it, will you put yourself?

Zhang: What do you think is best?

Annie: According to what he said, it should be you.

Zhang: It’s not important.

Annie: It is important, because when the Los Angelenos see the painting they need to know who painted it. If it’s this person, they’ll think, “oh, it’s an old white man.” But you’re not! You’re not old, not white. At the same time, it could be a kind of joke, because it’s a famous image, and one he sent you, so you’re taking it and sending it back to him. It’s interesting. If you want to do something interesting, maybe keep it.

Leo: It’s a kind of cultural exchange. People want to know who the painter is. So it should be your back.

Annie: Do you like this?

Zhang: Very much.

Annie: Why?

Zhang: Because it has creativity, thoughtfulness.

Annie: And Rose’s?

Zhang: I like it. I like them all.

 

 
 

Brian Ash
The Man of the Hour, the Man with the Power
Oil on Canvas
20 x 24 inches

Zhang: I think that this painting’s colors (the boxer’s clothes) are very pretty and while I was painting it I had an excited feeling, from the announcement of the boxer’s righteous win.

 

 
 

Grant Dekernion
LONELY IN MODESTO
Oil on Canvas
24 x 19 inches

Zhang: This one was so hard, because of all this detail.

Annie: Do you understand this?

Zhang: Not really.

Annie: This one has all these deep-seated cultural symbols. Like this (Blossom) is from a TV program we watched as kids, and here he says, where is that girl from Blossom? What was her fate? And then you see she’s sexy. And this is just kind of Japanese animation. And this is his grocery list, pasta, carrots, very ordinary. This is a conversation about a child… maybe a mother and father fighting.

Zhang: Oh, I see!

 

 
 

Money Mark
Google Street View Candid
Oil on Canvas
25 x 20 inches

Annie: This one?

Leo: The important thing is the person’s body. The face is unclear. So the requirement is to represent the body. But we don’t really know… this photo… what meaning it represents.

Annie: Do you like this?

Zhang: I like them all. They are all thoughtful, interesting.

 

 
 

Lisa Rieffel
What’s wrong??
Oil on Canvas
24 x 20 inches

Zhang: So funny! I think it’s Japan. I think the man on the program is eating something he didn’t expect, because of the program required it, and he really exaggerates his response.

 

 
 

Johnny Dunn
Shitty Beatles
Oil on Canvas
25 x 21 inches

Annie: These are the Beatles, no? The English band.

Zhang: I just paint what I see.

Leo: Annie, Let me explain why he doesn’t know what these are. His work does not encompass knowing all these things, international things…young people can listen to Beyonce’s songs, Beatles’ songs… he doesn’t know all these things. To him, they are samples. He looks at them and paints according to what he sees.

 

 
 

Michael Langan
AALLEEXX
Oil on Canvas
26 x 22 inches

Annie: Oh, this is Alex.

Zhang: I don’t understand. A person that long.

Annie: I don’t know either.

 

 
 

David OReilly
Untitled Final Cut Pro Project
Oil on Canvas
25 x 21 inches

Zhang: This so hard to do. All these letters are so small. Look how big my brush is. Painting these made me feel bored.

 

 
 

David OReilly
Untitled Final Draft Screenplay
Oil on Canvas
20 x 24 inches

Zhang: This so hard to do. All these letters are so small. Look how big my brush is. Painting these made me feel bored.

 

 
 

David OReilly
Untitled Mail Draft
Oil on Canvas
24 x 20 inches

Zhang: This so hard to do. All these letters are so small. Look how big my brush is. Painting these made me feel bored. 

 

 
 

David OReilly
Untitled Maya Scene
Oil on Canvas
24 x 20 inches

Zhang: This so hard to do. All these letters are so small. Look how big my brush is. Painting these made me feel bored.

 

 
 

David OReilly
Untitled Word Document
Oil on Canvas
21 x 25 inches

Zhang: This so hard to do. All these letters are so small. Look how big my brush is. Painting these made me feel bored. 

 

 
 

David OReilly
Untitled Photoshop Document
Oil on Canvas
24 x 20 inches

Zhang: This so hard to do. All these letters are so small. Look how big my brush is. Painting these made me feel bored.

 

 
 

Matt Bennett
Oh Alexandra You Look So Pretty In Your White Dress
Oil on Canvas
20 x 24 inches

Zhang: This girl — cute, innocent.

 

 
 
Tim Reckart Background Same as Paintings Oil on Canvas 24 x 20 inches

Tim Reckart
Background Same as Paintings
Oil on Canvas
24 x 20 inches

Annie: Do you think this is strange?

Zhang: No. These three, they are artists/painters. Three people together and the background will be the same painting.

 

 
 

Rose Linke
It's hard to find a flower
Oil on Canvas
21 x 25 inches

View Linke's original instructions for the painter (PDF)

 

Annie: This?

Zhang: This is a road.

Annie: Why a mountain road and not a city road?

Zhang: Because a city road, in a painting, would be ugly. A mountain road is beautiful, the most ancient thing. If it had been a city road, it would have been ugly. Here you can see the earth…the ground…mother earth.

Annie: But when you saw these words what was the feeling you got?

Zhang: It has a kind of “yijing” (artistic mood or conception / creative concept), a thoughtfulness. It’s deep with this yijing.

Leo: Without a good idea (English), you can’t make a piece.

 

 
 

Najeeb Tarazi
Rajeev
Oil on Canvas
24 x 20 inches

Zhang: Some took me half a month, but this one took me a few minutes.

 

 
 

Jason Woliner
Monomyth
Oil on Canvas
24 x 20 inches

Zhang: This is beautiful!