Under the Bonsai Tree
September 7 - November 2, 2019
Mrs. is delighted to present Under the Bonsai Tree, Chris Bogia’s first solo exhibition at our Maspeth headquarters, following the gallery’s presentation of his work at NADA Miami 2018. Bogia’s newest body of work focuses on the bonsai as a projection of an alternative, calmer reality, one crafted through meticulous exertion and care.
The gallery’s windows will be partially veiled for the first time by full-width linen curtain panels cut with portholes, Circle Curtains, which add to a sense of domestic privacy to this show. These panels shield a room full of contradictions. Several small bonsai-shaped sculptures line the walls, while the center is dominated by a six-foot by nine-foot tree sculpture, Big Bonsai, it's very size anathema to the genre. Also anathema; the fixed nature of these wooden bonsai, which have all the proportional delights of their inspiration. They’re perfect, unchanging, and removed from the grueling constant exercise that bonsai normally entail. The artist has done all the work; these sculptures stand as small monuments to perfection, awaiting our enjoyment.
The violence of perfection is hinted at by Big Bonsai, however. Remove your eyes from the splendor of the giant tree and espy the severed hand to the side. Such physical perfection comes at great cost, it seems. Is there any worse castration for a sculptor than the loss of such a limb? The beauty of these bonsai becomes charged with pain. Bonsai are meticulously sculpted into idealized versions of natural forms; in Bogia’s hands, they become metaphors for the body, which can likewise be molded though, unlike these particular bonsai, never made static.
Under the Bonsai Tree also references the home, and the tension that exists in domestic spaces. Bogia’s bonsai are treated with surface finishes ranging from lacquer to grass-cloth wallpaper, materials which accentuate the interior quality of these works. They are a veneer of visual delight, distracting us from what chaos surely exists elsewhere. To keep a bonsai is a frenetic balancing act, and a potentially all-encompassing one. Mr. Fussy, a large yarn panel featuring a modified version of the iconic Roger Hargreaves children’s book character, is the keeper of the bonsai, and a suggestive surrogate for the artist. This Mr. Fussy is made adult both in size and by the prominent addition of male genitalia. Known for fastidiously combing the blades of grass on his lawn, his new adult status elevates this tic to a more complex disorder; his endowment suggests there are more enjoyable uses of his time. Judgements as to what’s better, the pursuit of physical ideals or the pursuit of pleasure, remains in the realm of the individual. Perhaps in these works they are one and the same.
Chris Bogia received his MFA from Yale University, New Haven, CT and his BA from New York University, NY. Bogia was a recent recipient of the Jackson Pollock - Lee Krasner Foundation Grant, a Queens Council for the Arts, New Works Grant, as well as a Rema Hort Mann Foundation Artist Community Engagement Grant. He also was an artist in residence at the Queens Museum Studio Program between 2017-2018. Recent exhibitions include, Grizzly Grizzly, Philadelphia, PA; The Bureau of General Services: Queer Division, Bravin Lee, Kate Werble, Spring/Break, the New Museum, New York; Mrs., Maspeth; Ortega y Gasset and BRIC, Brooklyn, NY. Bogia is also the co-founder and director of Fire Island Artist Residency, the world’s first LGBTQ artist residency.
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