January 10 February 7, 2009
opening reception January 10, 7 10 pm
Monte Vista presents new works on paper by Philip Maysles. “The Comfort of Enlightenment” completes his engagement with Norman Rockwell’s iconic painting about desegregation, “The Problem We All Live With” (1964). Using the photographs Rockwell made of studio models for this painting as source material for new work, Maysles addresses the failure of white artists to undermine America’s racial hierarchy through a conventional studio practice. Maysles interprets and re-imagines the history of White artists’ relations to Black life and culture in order to articulate the way in which White masculinity is both affirmed and challenged through contradictory feelings towards its perceived Black other. Inspired by W.E.B. Dubois’ remark that, “White artists
. . . cry for freedom in dealing with Negroes because they have so little freedom in dealing with whites,” Maysles takes creative liberties with the master narrative of American art history to reveal the inability of Euro-American liberals to recognize how they are both complicit with and subject to violence perpetrated in maintaining White supremacy. By filtering this history through an artistic lens shaped by lived experience, personal feeling and an understanding of critical race theory, Maysles makes the racial dynamic of his own subject position visible.
Philip Maysles was born in and currently lives and works in New York City. He received his BA with honors from Brown University (2002) and MFA in Art from The California Institute of Arts (2005). Maysles has exhibited painting, drawing and installation at P.S. 1 Museum of Contemporary Art (Long Island City), Artists Space (New York), Project Row Houses (Houston), the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and The Amistad Center for Art and Culture at the Wadsworth Atheneum (Hartford, CT). His writing on art and music has appeared in Small Axe: A Journal of Caribbean Thought (Indiana University Press, 2001) and The CORE Journal (MFA Houston, 2006). He has been a lecturer in Art at Rice University and the University of Houston (2005-2007). He currently teaches documentary filmmaking and runs a non-profit cinema in Harlem, New York. This is his first solo exhibition in Los Angeles