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Jim Drain

I wish I had a beak

April 9 – May 7, 2005

Greene Naftali Gallery is pleased to present the first New York solo-exhibition of new work by Jim Drain.  For this show, Drain has combined his homemade textiles and beadwork to create formally imaginative sculptures that engage the histories of Modernist abstraction and 60s psychedelia as well as converging popular and global economies. Content in the work is subverted by a meaning-resistant application of eye popping visual stimuli, what Lawrence Rinder has called, "a combination of extravagance and minimal pattern that evokes qualities of Islamic architecture and surface decoration". Low-tech approaches such as sewing, knitting, embroidery, and silk-screening are employed to address technological, first-world metaphors of proliferation, viral infection, and hybridity. Base materials, references to low culture, and a strategic deployment of dumbness are contrasted with a grace of labor, clunky elegance and a clean economy of materials.


The main gallery space, the first of the exhibition's two distinct parts, is inhabited by a series of nine anthropomorphic, totem-like sculptures. The grouping suggests an ersatz multicultural community or even tribe. Many of the sculptures reflect on the commodification of cultural hybridity. AIDS-a-delic, for example, incorporates tacky faux-African fabric into a grouping of bulbous biomorphic forms covered in beaded sores and knit tumors. Majestical Lips is striped in the colors of the official Rastafarian flag and has a humorous resemblance to drug paraphernalia. 


For the second part of the exhibition, the back gallery has been transformed into a brightly colored salon. With silkscreen prints, xeroxes, and house paint, Drain has created an elaborate wallpaper/wall painting hybrid that makes obvious national references. To complete the décor, a sofa once belonging to Drain's grandmother has been re-upholstered in a matching woven pattern. Across from the sofa hangs a group of collages celebrating underground music and its resistance to the homogenization of popular culture. Drain, aka Gorgon Radeo of the art collective Forcefield, was a resident of Fort Thunder, the renowned communal live/work space and home to some of the most innovative music made from 1995 until it was demolished to make way for a Blockbuster Video in 2002. The collages pay homage to such now famous indie rock bands as Sonic Youth, Nirvana, and Animal Collective as well as more obscure luminaries like Thrones, Karp and the Providence-based Men's Recovery Project, from whom the title of this exhibition was taken.


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