DITTRICH & SCHLECHTRIEM is pleased to present the first solo exhibition of Canadian Berlin-based artist-collaborators Travis LARUSSON and Przemek PYSZCZEK. The exhibition, Your History Is Not Our History, will run from the 18th of February through to the 17th of March, 2012.
With Tom of Finland as a conceptual agent, Larusson & Pyszczek present Your History Is Not Our History, exhibiting a series of photographs, paintings, and drawings bearing the same title. The works project, occupy, and remove familiar content, avoiding the often reductive qualities of appropriation and enlisting more expansive qualities of manifestation and inquiry. Contemporary identity comes up against the constructed identity of the past, with each side effected equally. History is not negated, but perhaps mutated.
The most influential homoerotic illustrations of the 20th Century were created by Touko Laaksonen, known as Tom of Finland. These iconic works depicted a number of men, often soldiers, police officers, bikers, and laborers with exaggerated anatomy engaged in sexual activity. These libidinal, seemingly incidental, encounters occurred in detached bucolic outcroppings and marginal interiors. The amplified fantasy of masculinity, derived from existing rebellious heterosexual subcultures, constructed the prominent archetype for gay men of the past century.
In Your History Is Not Our History (Portraits) the artists photograph themselves standing in the pixelated projection of original Tom of Finland illustrations. The merging members do not always meet eye to eye, the distorted portrait captures a shift. The silhouettes are not fully encapsulating the projected figure, some of it is lost in the void behind. This perfomative and experimental approach lends itself to the socially charged creative photographic practice of the 1960’s with Robert Heinecken-esque manipulations and the self-awareness of Lucas Samaras.
The landscape paintings are robed in seductive gradients and penetrating white light that was informed by the digital RGB projections of the portraits. This contemporary filter is applied over the detached Tom of Finland environments, revealing neutral unoccupied landscapes. With the original sexual act removed, one is left with the structures that define the hideaways and faint evidence of a past performance. While retaining the familiar psycho-sexual energy of it’s source, the landscapes are representational of a moment of historical re-positioning. One reflects on who has come before and who will come again.
Larusson & Pyszczek’s execution of both the oil paintings and the drawings match the incredible draftsmanship and skill of their source material. Tom of Finland's figures are re-drawn in the silhouettes of the artist duo's re-staging of the acts that take place in the original drawings.
The abstraction evokes a gap or partial relation to the past. The ungrounded figures, highly rendered in graphite and formally delicate, have a mysterious romance. The artists appropriately explore the duality of time and physical space while challenging the relevance of history within subcultures.
This is Larusson & Pyszczek’s first solo exhibition in Berlin and will be accompanied by a full color catalog Your History Is Not Our History, with an essay by Joseph R. Wolin.
Larusson & Pyszczek both studied at The University of Manitoba, having earned degrees in Fine Arts, and Environmental Design respectively. They have been working together since 2009.