Hommage to Steven Parrino
curator: Konrad Bitterli
Get your motor runnin'
Head out on the highway
Lookin' for adventure
And whatever comes our way
Yeah Darlin' go make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of your guns at once
And explode into space
Born to Be Wild. Steppenwolf/Mars Bonfire
Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper made motion picture history with their cult film Easy Rider. The road movie describes the “68er generation’s” attitude toward life. Holding a mirror up to American society, the film became a symbol for youth searching for unlimited freedom and independence following the overcoming of bourgeois conventions and traditional ways of life. The band Steppenwolf´s famous song Born to Wild is to be heard during the opening credits – it became the anthem for all those who hoped to find this freedom on a motorcycle: “Get the motor running / get it on the highway / looking for adventure / whenever it comes my way…”
The exhibition Born to Be Wild at the Kunstmuseum St. Gallen does indeed have to do with motorcycles and heavy metal, however not directly. The song title is a metaphor for the adventure of art, while the subtitle Hommage to Steven Parrino places the search for freedom in the space of art – using the example of an outstanding artist. Like no other, Steven Parrino, who died in 2005 in a motorcycle accident, unites Easy Rider´s possible projections and visions in his person, and his work as an artist forms the conceptual framework for the exhibition. Born in 1958 in New York, Steven Parrino emerged in the late 1980s with an unmistakable manner of monochrome painting in which the canvases were removed from the frame following the painting process and then stretched anew in a severely crumpled state. His painterly approach appears to have developed directly out of color field painting – with the decisive difference that his works owe their final form to a radical destructive gesture. “When I started making paintings, the word on painting was PAINTING IS DEAD. I saw this as an interesting place for painting … death can be refreshing, so I started engaging in necrophilia … approaching history in the same way that Dr. Frankenstein approaches body parts.” (Steven Parrino)
Although by bourgeois standards he lived the life of a social outsider, Steven Parrino moved at the epicenter of the wide network of the New York art scene and was one of the outstanding exponents of and sources of inspiration for contemporary culture. And thus the exhibition Born to Be Wild links motivic with formal-aesthetic questions, biographical references with artistic positions. With references to music and film, the project has at its core on the one hand the longing for freedom as a basic existential need. On the other hand, it outlines a personal network which unveils related artistic positions exemplified by outstanding single works in the exhibition: John Armleder (b. 1948), Sylvie Fleury (b. 1961), Amy Granat (b. 1976)/ Drew Heitzler (b. 1972), Jutta Koether (b. 1958), Thom Merrick (b. 1963), Olivier Mosset (b. 1944), Cady Noland (b. 1956), Mai-Thu Perret (b. 1976), Bettina Pousttchi (b. 1971), Roman Signer (b. 1938), Blair Thurman (b. 1966), and John Tremblay (b. 1966).
The exhibition Born to Be Wild was developed for the Kunstmuseum St. Gallen by curator Konrad Bitterli and presents, in addition to an extensive work group by Steven Parrino, key works by the participating artists from public and private collections.
A catalog with numerous illustrations and with texts by Konrad Bitterli, Georg Gatsas, and Olivier Mosset among others, will appear on the occasion of the exhibition, published by Verlag für moderne Kunst Nürnberg.
Image: Works by Olivier Mosset, Thom Merrick und Steven Parrino
Opening May 28, h 18.30
Museumstrasse 32 CH–9000 St.Gallen
Tuesday to Sunday 10 am to 5 pm
Wednesday to 8 pm
every Monday, August 1st