06/01/2017 - 07/21/2017
There is a background for Flair, which includes President Trump. Also the Republican-dominated congress (it seems that every day brings at least one and sometimes several jaw-dropping outrages from Washington); Putin striving to be a new tsar; Erdogan in Turkey angling to be an autocratic new sultan; Brexit with its hunker down, us-against-them, island mentality, and Marine Le Pen in France gussying up a quasi-fascist, anti-immigrant party with virulent anti-Semitic roots. All of this, and a whole climate of resurgent nationalism, populism, racism, sexism, and hostility to others who might look and think differently than “us.”
That’s the political and cultural context for Flair, yet this is not an overtly political exhibition, in the sense of presenting artworks that address this or that issue, no matter how pressing and important. It is, however, deeply political in its emphatic belief that art matters a great deal—always—but especially now, when so much of what seems so very good and nutritive is under assault. In this time, when powerful forces are seeking to mold, manipulate, and define culture and consciousness altogether, art and artists (who habitually deal in radical freedom) can indeed be a bulwark and a cathartic inspiration. That’s the premise of Flair: gorgeous, wonderfully idiosyncratic art, confident about its own importance in an era of platitudes, self-serving power, and divisive fear-mongering; art full of risk and driving ideas in this exceedingly difficult time, art chock-full of flair.
Whereas President Trump’s outlook is fundamentally nativist and nationalistic—America first, make America great again, keep out the immigrants, especially Muslims and Mexicans—Flair is open to the world. All of the artists in Flair are—a very conscious decision on the part of the curator—from elsewhere. All are highly acclaimed artists who have exhibited widely in their home countries and abroad, but only one (German artist Karin Sander) has exhibited extensively in New York.
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