Ryan Mrozowski at Pierogi

Luminous Fleas

23 April – 23 May, 2010

Regard this: That there was never a moment when there is not some comet in the sky. Virtually there is no year in which several new comets are not discovered, so plentiful are they. Luminous fleas on a vast black dog-in popular impressions, there is no realization of the extent to which this solar system is flea-bitten. (Charles Fort, 1919)
Fort, considered a crackpot by many, was a collector of miscellanea and unexplained phenomena. He juxtaposed unrelated data and proposed all kinds of theories for phenomena that scientists discarded when it did not fit conveniently into experimentation; not so much because he believed his own theories, but because he wanted to reveal the cracks in scientific positivism and suggest alternate possibilities.
In a similar way, Mrozowski gathers seemingly unrelated imagery to propose all kinds of strange scenarios. In his paintings we see that mysterious events are happening, that something is happening, but we don’t quite know what and we cannot / have no means to explain it. To appreciate them, we must accept the discomfort their strangeness and our condition of unknowing imposes. “Realities collapse in tableau after tableau. The carnivalesque meets the athletic, which collides with the academic. Gravity competes against the absurd.” (Leah Ollman, 2008)
In Gallery 1 will be a group of paintings in which Mrozowski presents theatrical spaces filled with rituals, sporting events, reenactments, and public gatherings.  He attempts to examine how history is created, through the mutation of symbolism and the abstracting of narrative.  The incongruous combination of objects and figures presented to these painted audiences juxtapose the profound and the absurd, the familiar and the uncanny.  The work is an attempt to examine the gaps in our collected /ive knowledge, creating a personal iconography that speaks to a universal condition. At the same time, the paintings show the level to which spectacle, performance, and voyeurism have permeated contemporary life.
In “Skirmish,” a large audience looks on as what appear to be two choral groups take turns performing, perhaps battling it out in song / dueling performances, while balanced precariously atop a large table-like structure. In “The Enthusiasts,” members of an audience seated in what appears to be a lecture hall or auditorium, hold lighters aloft as if at a rock concert, toward an event out of view. In “Sharp Shooters,” two singers face off in performance, while a seated figure next to each takes aim at the other with rifle raised.
In Gallery 2 will be a group of Mrozowski’s film animations, exhibited for the first time.  Combining old black and white footage and digitally manipulating each of the thousands of frames individually, the result is a moving image addendum to the absurd subject matter of the paintings. A miniature maestro conducting a flock of birds in the middle of a late-winter field could be a Mrozowski painting come to life. And a dancer atop a piano recalls the situations in which the subjects of Mrozowski’s paintings often find themselves-performing strange activities on unlikely stages for unanticipated audiences. This will be Mrozowski’s second one-person exhibition at Pierogi.