Regards, Barry McGee
July 26-October 18, 1998
Gallery 7

"My work explores the sometimes humorous ills of contemporary city life. I combine graffiti, drawings, and found objects together to create installations that try to capture the overload of the senses that one might feel walking down the street of any one of our fine American cities." -- Barry McGee

San Francisco–based artist Barry McGee creates works directly on "found" surfaces ranging from the gallery walls to steel printer’s trays, from discarded bottles to scraps of paper mounted in thrift-store frames. Entangled in a sea of floating hardware, calligraphic markings, and fragmented body parts, McGee’s wall installations infuse a sublime poetic order on the inner city. These large-scale, site-specific works reference the ambivalent citizenry of the city through astute juxtapositions of figurative imagery reminiscent of Mad magazine and Dr. Seuss illustrations, which address "urban ills, overstimulations, frustrations, addictions, and trying to maintain a level head under the constant bombardment of advertising."

A prolific producer of public works, McGee employs the materials, aesthetic vocabulary, and performativity of graffiti for his works. Inspired by his own civic participant/observer role, his invocation of graffiti writing recasts our understanding of discrete objects, action painting, temporality, and the use of text in Conceptual Art. The resulting mural-scale installations suggest a distressed, though markedly absurd contemporary horizon. Rendered in aerosol enamel, house paints, and marking inks, these densely layered walls recall the multiple markings, erasures, interruptions, and reinscriptions of the urban landscape.

McGee was born in San Francisco in 1966 and received a B.F.A. in painting and printmaking from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1991. He has installed numerous public works, both commissioned and unsanctioned, in Toronto, New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. He has exhibited at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; the Museu Lasar Segall, São Paulo; the Drawing Center, New York; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He recently completed a public art commission organized by the 509 Cultural Center/Luggage Store Gallery in the SoMA district of San Francisco.

Curator: Eungie Joo