Ori Carino and Benjamin Armas Voided
April 29, 2017 - May 27, 2017
So you should view this fleeting world —
A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream,
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.
—Diamond Cutter Sutra (500 BC)
Opening Reception: Saturday, April 29, 6 PM.
Tapping into a new generation of artists who grew up in the East Village and who are steeped in its history and culture, Howl! Happening is pleased to present Voided by Ori Carino and Benjamin Armas. Voided includes Carino’s protest paintings series as well as several collaborative sculptures by Armas and Carino. The exhibition runs through May 27, 2017.
Carino was born in 1982 in a loft and functioning art gallery on Houston Street in Manhattan and raised among several pivotal artists of the 80s Outsider Art movement. Collectively, this exhibition intersects downtown artistic lineages from the 50s to the present and demonstrates the continuing social critique that has engaged generations of artists in the Lower East Side.
Carino’s paintings feature portraits of a procession of activist heroes who left their mark on East Village history. Densely packed with movement and storytelling, the series includes five large panels, each 48 x 72 inches. Meticulously painted like Tibetan thangkas, these archetypes of the forward thinking and progressive individuals who went against the grain are rendered amid canvases crowded with a hyperreal and fantastical array of pop culture symbols and objects from the natural world. Like protector spirits, they signify the wild things, the change, and the altruism of the individuals and groups pushing us forward to a better understanding of who we are and how we intersect with the world today.
Building sculptures with materials recovered from local tenement demolitions since 2006, Armas and Carino both grew up in the neighborhood at a time when it was undergoing rapid gentrification. Treating these works as “performance,” the artists intentionally change them by a process of ceremonial burning and dilapidation. “In this, we relate to buildings as metaphors for the physical, mental, and social body; racing towards an inevitable end, yet endowed with unlimited potential for catalyzing positive change,” says Armas.
Also included in the show is a large painting with a motorized brush that drags paint in a circle essentially “voiding” its imagery, a performance occurring daily that has Carino repeatedly building up a brick wall only to tear it down, a special multiple made for the show by Armas and Carino, panel discussions, and a new work by composer Jessie Montgomery produced in conjunction with Carino specially for the Voided exhibition.
“By losing what once was, we gain the opportunity to discard preconceived notions, affirm our agency, and ‘represent’ the change we would like to manifest,” says Carino.