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Aaron T Stephan: To Borrow, Cut, Copy, and Steal
September 6, 2014 - February 8, 2015
Portland Museum of Art is presenting Aaron T Stephan: To Borrow, Cut, Copy, and Steal, Portland-based artist Aaron T Stephan's first solo exhibition at the Museum. Stephan, who is known for his take-offs of familiar gestures by artists throughout the history of modern and contemporary art, will present four sculptural installations and a small selection of works on paper that convey his wit and his cheeky dialogue with the conventions and procedures of the art world. On view September 6, 2014 through February 8, 2015, To Borrow, Cut, Copy, and Steal is part of the Portland Museum of Art's Circa series, which features the work of living artists from Maine and beyond. (right: Aaron T Stephan (United States, born 1974), Spilled Paint #2, 2014, Silicon rubber, 12 x 20 feet, Courtesy of the artist and Samsøn Projects, Boston)
Stephan will install a bouquet of drooping pedestals in the Portland Museum of Art's Selma Wolf Black Great Hall, which will mock the perceived formality of an art museum and play off of the grid of colors in Mark Wethli's mural, Transom (2003). Continuing the humor from the first floor installation, the fourth floor gallery will feature the work An Awkward Meeting of Painting and Sculpture, in which a Lichtenstein-like stroke of "paint" (rubber) will drape a finely constructed mahogany sawhorse. The gallery will also include a series of prints that appropriates Johannes Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring as well as the media enterprise that the painting has inspired in our contemporary culture.
Stephan has also created a series of rarely exhibited audio recordings of conversations with phone-sex operators, in which he asked the women questions about art and tried in earnest to solicit conversation. The conversations, which have been edited for length, veer in the directions of childhood memories and formal analysis, and suggest a friendly tussle between the speakers for control of the conversation. Here, as elsewhere, Stephan impinges on another's territory, using both literal-mindedness and a taste for the absurd to create room for serious inquiry into the standards and conventions of art in our time.
Raised in upstate New York, Stephan attended Purchase College at the State University of New York, where he graduated with a BFA in sculpture. He earned his MFA degree from the Maine College of Art. Stephan has exhibited widely in Maine and beyond, with recent solo projects at the de Cordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, Massachusetts (2013) and Southern New Hampshire University (2014).
The curator of Aaron T Stephan: To Borrow, Cut, Copy, and Steal is Jessica May, Chief Curator at the Portland Museum of Art.
Circa is a series of exhibitions featuring the work of living artists from Maine and beyond.
Aaron T Stephan: To Borrow, Cut, Copy, and Steal is funded in part by a grant from the Maine Arts Commission, an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, and is generously supported by S. Donald Sussman. Corporate sponsorship is provided by The VIA Agency, and media sponsorship is provided by The Portland Phoenix.
To view text panels for the exhibition please click here.
(above: Aaron T Stephan (United States, born 1974), An Awkward Meeting of Painting and Sculpture, 2012, Mahogany, bronze, rubber, (a) 33 7/8 x 32 1/4 x 18 7/8 inches (b) 47 x 16 1/2 inches. Portland Museum of Art, Maine. Museum purchase, 2012.40a,b)
Checklist for the exhibition
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