Perrotin is pleased to present Nick Doyle’s second exhibition with the gallery and his first ever in Paris. For this occasion, the artist presents familiar imagery, front-facing yet with a caustic slant, addressing heightened clichés of masculinity and a dark vision of forgotten American territories.
The California-born New York-based artist deliberately and objectively flips history and genre painting—and the generation of stereotyped images and other modernities—upside down. Here the “low” subject defeats the “high” work in a game of transfigured savoir-faire and meticulous, luxurious techniques, which involve handwork, an artisanal virtuosity applied to registers of forms and notconforming structures. In a tone borrowed from sharp satire, Nick Doyle nips at the perverse edges of our contemporary era and its serious entropy.
From the outset, the choice of preliminary images is understood to be paramount: deceptive or recalcitrant “icons,” each of which, selected for their evocative power, is the metonymy or critical storytelling of an American culture whose present is outmoded. A thorny cactus, a paintbrush left behind, a garbage bag filled to capacity, a broken pencil, a cut-up phallic tie: as many banal signs and emblems. as those in a washed-out materialistic society, a sadly domesticated landscape in which—a priori—resides the eternal conquest of the Wild West and perpetuations of a “modernist myth.”
Doyle depicts the agonies and impasses of a society in ruins, where forsaken artifacts and décor coexist in a mercantile prosody. His works parody advertising signs, the target or the shooter.
Similarly to a cinematic wide shot, the series of objects brings forth a ‘Made in the USA’ heritage that movies and pop culture have endorsed. Resonant with film director Kelly Reichardt’s universe, Doyle depicts the agonies and impasses of a society in ruins, where forsaken artifacts and décor coexist in a mercantile prosody. His work revisits the roots of consumerism: the producer and its target. Since the human figure is absent, the objects become the actors. The oversized scale of the works heightens this corporeal effect, even substitutes it through mirroring and echoing, testing the viewer. Individual consistency, from the cowboy to the trader in particular, is called into question. So great and so defeated, one might say. Nevertheless, in the absence of a background or stable décor, the viewer faces the edges of a hollowed-out world, a front-facing copypaste, torn from “artificial realism.”
The marquetry of textile, central to Doyle’s work, presents in a range of polychrome hues the quest for the restitution of the source image: maple wood, vegetable-tanned leather, re-assembled denim, come together. Using the language of pattern making, often linked to tapestry, a pictorial translation materializes through the distillation of form and color. Up close, the trompe l’oeil material echoes the subjects of this cultural anthropology. Doyle’s savoir-faire is inscribed within American vernacular crafts and folklore, often intertwined by nature. Here, denim acts as a raw material, as much fertile ground as old ruin, resulting in a sensual density, visually and fundamentally human. The artist’s hand transpires through each fabric strip, then adhered onto the wooden surface of the recreated objects.
The exhibition’s title, Ruin certainly outlines darker social undertones, revealing an American dreamland turned to abstraction upon closer inspection. The highly-executed works — wood-carving, quilting and leatherworking — rebut their polished demeanor. While unquestionably drawn from miles of flatland, the nostalgia of the discarded bouquet counters its sun-bleached tones.
Born in Los Angeles, USA
Lives and works in Brooklyn, USA
Nick Doyle is keenly aware of the legacy of the American notion of Manifest Destiny. Known best for sculptural wall works made from collaged denim, Doyle infiltrates the vocabulary of Americana to examine greed, excess, and toxic masculinity. Doyle uses the road trip—a pillar of American mythology—as a point of entry to his work in order to question the persistence of Rugged Individualism as the fabric of our national identity. Through a series of mechanical miniatures, theatrical scenery, and satirical prop-like denim works, the artist foregrounds the dangers of nostalgia and our evolving relationship to consumerism. Seemingly innocuous, Doyle’s imagery—vending machine, typewriter, cigarette pack—and materials—indigo and cotton—tell a story of American colonialism and consumerism, as well as explore the influence of media on global trade systems. By employing materials that hold cultural significance, the artist both reflects on and critiques social and political agendas that are often at play in contemporary life and visual culture.