Exhibitions > A Debt to Pleasure

Montserrat Gallery

February 4- April 2, 2011

"Allegorical imagery is appropriated imagery; the allegorist does not invent images but confiscates them. He lays claim to the culturally significant, poses as its interpreter. And in his hands becomes something other." Craig Owens

A Debt to Pleasure presents a selection of paintings that appropriate visual iconography by fragmenting, cropping, and sampling images and ideas from the history of paintings. Inspired by the visual and symbolic richness of such diverse painting practices as 17th-century Dutch still lifes, Italian Renaissance master paintings and American folk art, the painters employ allegory and realism to investigate the use of symbolism in painting, comment on how paintings are interpreted over time and question the art world’s insistence on originality and the new.

Works by Julie Heffernan, David Ording, Shelley Reed, Erik Thor Sandberg, and Anne Siems reference stylistic techniques and aesthetics of the past, while examining those of the present. In collapsing time periods and inspirations, the works assembled address their maker’s place in the history of art. Together they pose the question: Do historical visual signifiers, once so rich in cultural symbolism, still function as such today? A Debt to Pleasure serves as a gateway into the the history of painting inspiring viewers to look a little closer at works both of the present and the past.