Slag Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of two solo exhibitions:
William Downs’s “A world I never made” and Gheorghe Fikl’s “Labyrinth”

April 2 to May 9, 2009
Opening reception: Thursday, April 2, 6 PM to 8 PM

“A world I never made,” is a solo exhibition of drawings by New York artist William Downs (b. Greenville, South Carolina, 1974). This presentation brings together two installations of drawings that illuminate his vast range of ideas and materials. The exhibition will include over 80 new drawings that cover the walls of the gallery and can be read both collectively and individually. Downs is well-known for infiltrating and occupying spaces with narratives that depict his process of automatic drawing, revealing a balance between conscious and unconscious states.

Drawn on found materials (such as used manila folders) as well as new paper, the installation entitled “now let it go” is a group of black-and-white drawings that are hung in a grid. Displaying his interest in minimal materials such as ink wash, charcoal, grease, and lead pencils, Downs utilizes media that are easy to transport, as he travels back and forth from New York to Baltimore to teach drawing. “Body/Landscape,” a vivid and colorful installation hung in a row, is a landscape consisting solely of works on 26-by-20-inch sheets of cream-tone paper.

Past exhibitions of Downs’s work have consisted of hundreds of small drawings installed in chapters or as multiple vignettes. His subjects are often playful and light-hearted, but with dark undertones. His clumsy yet carefully crafted drawings are reminiscent of short songs or brief verses exploring such themes as fear, memory, dreams, fantasies, travel, and death. Imaginary and psychological landscapes dominate Downs’s world, as is evidenced in his use of turbulent machines and natural occurrences such as roller coasters and storm clouds.

“In several of Downs’s new drawings, a roller coaster’s curves, knots and vertiginous rises appear as an archaic monument to the time of its heyday.” —from the catalog essay by Lyra Kilston

Downs holds an MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and a BFA in painting and printmaking from the Atlanta College of Art.

Downs’s previous solo exhibitions include “Fly Away Fly Away,” ArtSpace, New Haven, Connecticut (2008); “Drawings,” Tevis County Gallery, Westminster, Maryland (2003); “Drawings 2001–2002,” Mission Space, Baltimore (2002); “Broken Ladders,” Chattahoochee Valley Art Museum, La Grange, Georgia (1999).

Downs’s work has been included in the following group exhibitions: “Transformers,” curated by Derrick Adams, The Gateway Gallery, Baltimore (2008); “Untitled,” Moti Hasson Gallery, New York (2008); and “cotton candy on a cloudy day,” curated by Shinique Smith, The Proposition, New York (2006).

Gheorghe Fikl (b. 1968) is a Romanian artist from Timisoara, where he graduated from the painting department of West University, Timisoara. His striking images and the violent tones, in which the antagonistic symbols of absolute piety and aggressive carnality explore each other from a distance, and reveal a permanent and almost unbearable psychological tension that focuses especially on a “no one’s land” in between them.

Fikl’s approach is starkly uniform. His compositions are almost always balanced, with a central elongated animal figure set against a symmetrical background. The central figure is lit dramatically, with a single source of light from above, as if taking center stage in a theater production. Indeed, his works seem plucked directly from the theater, with a complex drama unfolding in each painting. They are like sinister operas rendered in paint.

“Strange worlds meet on the surfaces of Gheorghe Fikl’s opulent paintings. The grand and awe-inspiring kingdom of Life, of animals and nature, is set against the luxurious backdrop of lavish objects and decadent settings. In Fikl’s paintings two forms of bounty collide to produce a hybrid world in which glory, beauty, and elegance reign supreme.” —from the catalog essay by Chen Tamir

Fikl’s solo shows include “Solo Exhibition,” Gallery Calina, Timisoara, Romania (2008); “Solo Exhibition,”
Gallery Carturesti, Timisoara, Romania (2005); “Solo Exhibition,” Gallery Posibila, Bucharest, Romania (2005); “Solo Exhibition,” Art Club, Timisoara, Romania (2004).

Fikl’s group shows include “Against All Odds,” Slag Gallery, New York (2008); “Group Exhibition,” Dana Gallery, Iasi, Romania (2007); “Exhibition Organized by the Romanian Cultural Institute,” Romanian Embassy, Paris, France (1999).

An illustrated catalog including essays by Lyra Kilston, senior editor of Modern Painters, and Chen Tamir, independent curator and director of Flux Factory, will be published in conjunction with the exhibition.

SLAG Gallery specializes in contemporary Eastern European art and is operated by owner and director Irina Protopopescu.

SLAG Gallery is located at 531 West 25th Street, Ground 10 (between 10th and 11th Avenues).
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 11 AM to 6 PM.

For press inquiries and reproductions, contact Irina Protopopescu at SLAG Gallery, 917 977 1848.
For general inquiries, contact Özkan Cangüven, 212 967 9818 or 646 457 7663