October 4 – Extended through January 12, 2019
Opening: Thursday, October 4, 2018
University Art Gallery
The University Art Gallery (UAG) is excited to present SUPERBLOOM, a solo exhibition by NYC-based artist Eric LoPresti. This exhibition examines the complicated effects the Cold War and nuclear testing have had on the Southwest American landscape and the global psyche. Comprised of oil paintings, large-format watercolors, digital works and a multi-channel video (a new medium for the artist), SUPERBLOOM opens on October 4 at New Mexico State University Art Gallery. The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of performances and events.
LoPresti’s oil paintings and watercolors include epic views of gigantic nuclear test sites and the scarred desert landscapes of the American west, counterbalanced by intimate depictions of cacti and desert flowers, symbols of ecology and resilience. The pairing invokes a yin-yang of beauty and destruction, trauma and aesthetics.
LoPresti grew up near the Hanford site, where the US manufactured plutonium for the Nagasaki atomic bomb. This personal history imbues his artworks with a nuanced perspective on blistered landscapes. Avoiding overt politicization, LoPresti’s work focuses instead on observed reality filtered through the eyes of a landscape painter. LoPresti is also a practitioner of aikido, a Japanese martial art founded in the ashes of WWII Japan. Aikido espouses a martial philosophy of non-confrontation, an appropriate strategy for facing all-powerful weapons to which there is no real defense.
LoPresti has created a multi-channel video juxtaposing a vigorous aikido performance with a colored screen displaying data from each of the nuclear weapons explosions in history. There have been 2,056 to date, from Trinity to the recent North Korean tests. Each aikido fall is paired with a detonation. Part data visualization, part endurance piece, the artwork poetically invokes the potential for creative denouement of global violence.
Sited a mere 97 miles from Trinity, the location of the first atomic bomb, SUPERBLOOM outlines an expansive framework within which viewers can meditate on two increasingly relevant antipodes of human experience: the quest for aesthetic expression and the threat of global apocalypse. Following in the painterly tradition of the apocalyptic sublime, LoPresti explores how our lives are shaped by trauma and aesthetics making works about deserts, nuclear weapons and color.
Recent solo exhibitions include An Ocean of Lightat Burning in Water (NYC), Blooms at Elizabeth Houston Gallery (NYC), Blueprint Paintings at University of Rochester (NY), No Blue Skiesat Kunsthalle Galapagos (NYC) and Test Siteat the National Atomic Test Museum, part of the Smithsonian Institution (Las Vegas). A winner of the Faber Birren Foundation Award and the Miami Young Painters Award, LoPresti has been interviewed on international video by Reuters and the Washington Post, and his work has received mentions in The New York Times, Art in America, Artforum.com, NY Arts, ArtLog.com, Nature, The Denver Post, The Seattle Times, Vegas Seven Magazine and the Village Voice. LoPresti holds a BA in Cognitive Science from the University of Rochester and an MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art. In addition to SUPERBLOOM, LoPresti is also currently working on Swipe Right, collaboration with Art F City about contemporary challenges to aesthetics. LoPresti lives in Brooklyn and practices aikido at the New York Aikikai.
Join us for the opening reception of SUPERBLOOM, Thursday, October 4, 2018, 6:00 – 7:30PM. As associated programing, the UAG will also host two live Aikido performances on Saturday, October 6, 2018, 1:00 – 2:00PM and Saturday, December 1, 2018, 1:00 -2:00PM. A panel discussion, focusing on the complex history of nuclear development in the West and the potential role art can play as a catalyst of change,will also be held on Saturday, December 1, 2018, 2:00 – 3:00PM. All events will be held in the UAG and are free and open to the public.
A full programming calendar including all associated programming and partnership events, workshops, and performances are regularly posted on uag.nmsu.edu. This exhibition was partially funded by a grant from the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico’s Devasthali Family Foundation Fund and the George and Lucy Gray Endowed Art Fund.
To schedule any interviews or for any questions, please contact Marisa Sage, Director of the University Art Gallery firstname.lastname@example.org or 575-646-2545.
Eric LoPresti, Four Corners, Watercolor and gouache on paper, 50 x 38″, 2016.
Eric LoPresti: Aikido Performance #2
University Art Gallery, December 1, 2018, 1PM
As part of the exhibition Superbloom, please join us for an Aikido performance by Eric LoPresti, Paul Forhan, Head instructor of Aikido of El Paso and Octavio Pina, from Aikikai Las Cruces. This performance will take place at 1:00 PM in the University Art Gallery and is free and open to the public.
In the wake of the US bombings of Japan in 1945, Japanese combat institutions, including many martial arts dojos, were shut down. Imported in the US shortly after, the relatively modern martial art of aikido survived by transforming itself from, in the words of its founder, “one strike from aikido can kill” to “the way of harmony.” Eric LoPresti started practicing aikido 25 years ago, and this practice has subtly but profoundly influenced his artistic direction.
Eric LoPresti: SUPERBLOOM Panel Discussion
University Art Gallery/DW Williams Hall, December 1, 2018, 2PM
A panel discussion with students, faculty and artists, focusing on various topics that grapple with the complex history of nuclear development in the West and the potential role art can play as a catalyst of change.
On November 29th, two days before the panel, students will take part In a creative workshop, using a technique called “Design Thinking”. In this workshop, NMSU students will work collaboratively with the artist and students from other disciplines to define their viewpoints relative to a topics such as: ‘human-created forces of destruction’ vs ‘natural forces’“, The Apocalyptic Sublime” as it relates to between beauty and destruction in visual culture of 2018, modern day environmentalism, the ethics of cyber and bio weapons, and the us involvement in the Cold War. With the workshop under their belt, the students will participate in a public panel discussion where all panelists will discuss the workshoped topics in depth in front of an audience in the University Art Gallery. The panel will be videotaped and the video posted on the UAG website.