We Are Ruins

26 Sep

Calendar update: Solvent 3 exhibition will debut on October 8 at Second Floor Gallery.  Opening reception: 6:30 pm to 10:00 pm.

Below, resident-writer Jason Parry discusses Solvent’s upcoming exhibition ideas, contexts, and plans (i.e. future ruins).

“The ruin,” writes Derrida, “does not supervene like an accident upon a monument that was intact only yesterday. In the beginning there is ruin” (Memoirs of the Blind: The Self-Portrait and Other Ruins). Our experiential realities are daily defined by a navigation of and a propagation of ruins. Though St. John tells us that “In the beginning was the Word,” the arche he seeks to establish with language is purely illusory (John 1:1). For even God needs his translators, and the foundations of language, which may at first seem so stable, are in reality no more secure than the thousands of exploded fallacies which have been expressed through language.  This perceived solidity is continually undermined by the per diem abuse of every sign, word and signal we employ to give voice to the subjective experience. By calling attention to this fragility, the exhibition “We Are Ruins” will attempt to confront the ontological problem of the ruin, and affirm the delicate beauty of experience in what Martin Heidegger called a “being toward death” (Being & Time, 235).

Art, being in many ways the most highly touted artifice of man, is singularly suited to comment on the problem of ruins. The simple act of observing art is a violent one, for there is in every viewer a pictorial legacy that floods the image with associations, thereby destroying both the original intent of the artist and any hope for an unsullied aesthetic reaction. “We Are Ruins” would anticipate this effect, and would display a new approach to art, an art-in-itself, that would preempt the unconscious deconstruction of the viewer by engaging in its own deconstruction. In practice, the exhibition would consist of a projected video, distorted and fragmented by means of mirrors and scrims, surrounded by walls transformed into a palimpsest of layered images. These layers would be exposed at different points, providing for an ongoing recontextualization of each image throughout the exhibition. Just as uncommissioned street art adds new meaning to what it overlays, the mangled images on display would shape each other’s messages in a reciprocal relationship—manifesting visually the unconscious process of dismemberment that characterizes all interpretation.

As ruins are a byproduct of futurity, they are inescapable. Just as Jacques Derrida pointed out, there is no prelapsarian condition from which structures fall into ruin; the hermeneutical nature of human understanding is permeated by ruins and, because of this, is only capable of creating ruins. Residue and wreckage are the daily bread of consciousness. However, lest this conception be mistaken for nihilism, I shall defer to Dr. Eduardo Cadava, who says: “we can only love what is mortal. Love therefore means loving ruins, loving what we can lose at any moment, loving what is finite” (“Irresistible Dictations” 9). The essential incompleteness of being is what facilitates love; without it, humanity is stranded on the barren beaches of eternity. “We Are Ruins” is therefore not only an experiment in the unveiling of unconscious analytic procedures, but a meditation on the magnificence of our ephemerality.


Success at Solvent 2

12 Sep

We would like to thank everyone that made it out to Second Floor for Solvent 2!  Here are some photos of the opening.  Be sure to stay tuned for an announcement regarding Solvent’s next show!

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Solvent 2 Exhibition

1 Sep

It’s coming up!  Mark your calendars!  Bring your friends and family!

Solvent 1 Photos

31 Aug

Please enjoy these photos from our first opening, Solvent 1, at Second Floor Gallery.  Our second exhibition, Solvent 2, is scheduled to take place September 10th.  Join us that day at Second Floor for live music, drinks, and of course, new work!

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The Art of Cult/The Cult of Art

30 Aug

When discussing the means by which art enlivens and enriches society, one is reduced to quavering abstractions. These feeble gestures towards the ineffable, far from reinforcing art’s importance, diminishes it in the minds of a culture geared to expect material reward. After all, what is the value of a book of poetry? I cannot show you the effect of Dylan Thomas on myself, besides a vague reference to some appropriated stylistic conventions, but the effect is no less monumental because of its indistinctness. However, an indistinct beauty, being as marketable as tears sincerely shed, suffers the certain fate of being left to die on the factory floor. In fact, the so-called masterpieces of the world are spared only because of the impregnability of their economic value.

Beauty is inefficient and, as a result, subversive. It is a gaping hole in the smooth, eschatological road of progress; a road which promises one everything but transcendence; a sure road to the nirvana of distraction which the captains of industry have so determinedly sold to us as ‘the good life’. But, in the final analysis, it is a road of dying and of death. The sugar of boredom proves more bitter than hell.

Two tyrannies remain: these are the Empire of Art and the Art of Empire—one modern, one archaic. The stranglehold of geriatric market systems, of calcified relationships between profiteering museums and starry-eyed art historians, has in effect sold the history of art for the price of art’s future. With both God and punk being dead, the starving tree of art—for millennia man’s sole source of pure soul food—has found itself adrift in a sea of wood-craving sharks. In an effort to stimulate interest, a cult of dead masters has been allowed to develop uncontrollably, sending the prices of the elect’s paintings through auction house roofs. At the same time, the mythos of the starving artist has been bought hook, line and sinker by a generation looking to escape the runaway commodification of everyday life. By marginalizing the one potential element of dissidence in a pacified society, the oligarchs of the art business have secured their own well being for the foreseeable future. While van Gogh contented himself with strict rations of heavenly bread, the man who owns his paintings today orders it fresh from a five-star restaurant. Welcome to the Empire of Art.

Those familiar with the history of artistic patronage will need no introduction to this second and much more intractable evil. Are we still confused why the Italian Renaissance—an age touted as one of humanism, art and discovery—was also one of savagery, bloodthirstiness and persecution?  All the court painters and musicians of history have been accomplices to the ravages of commerce and coercion. Iron-fisted popes, kings, and conquerors have for centuries glorified themselves in exchange for courtly favors. Every Napoleon needs an equestrian portrait; every Medici wants a funerary chapel.

In an all-out attack on these systems, which have proven so divisive, bloody and oppressive, I propose a new anti-hierarchical organizational methodology: an Art of Cult and a Cult of Art. This is not to use the term cult in the stigma-laden fashion it is typically associated with in the contemporary lexicon, but rather with a meaning much closer to the original Latin cultus. As the famous philologist Walter F. Otto describes it: cultus represents an evocation of “a holy reality, that is to say, a totality filled with true existence” (Dionysus 16). Otto used the term to include the Thracian cults of Ancient Greece and their Dionysian rituals. However, it may also include the grand ambitions thought up by Gustave Courbet as he stared down the Prussian cannons in 1871, or the artistic endeavors of the Situationist International. Cultus is at once a condemnation of and exercise in artificiality. It is an overcoming of the self through an indulgence of the self. It is a crafting of essence. It turns performance into life and life into performance. Cultus is paradox.

Cultus is also by its nature communal. There is no spectacle beyond the spectacle lived and breathed. The establishment of cultus has always precipitated a promethean renaissance; and it is the responsibility of all eager parties to stimulate interest in the dying art of unadulterated creation. After all, the determined cohesion of passionate individuals has always been the single most reliable catalyst of change. Let our modern ruins be our playground.


Jason Parry


23 Aug

Before painting, I try to have a clear focused mind state, usually having a direct meaning for the viewer to interpret. I stress the importance of my message and as with any message given to a viewer it should be contemplated thoroughly. Everything has a purpose. This is a preview of how I attain such a mindset.

I feel Art is a form of meditation.
When meditating I feel complete silence letting my mind focus or rest on specific ideas which I choose to focus on. This silence allows me to mentally develop and later produce especially in regards to art. Painting is an expression of my mind’s form it serves as an outlet after deep meditative processes.

As a result of peaceful reflection I am able to channel the ideas I want through the form of a brush and color.
Many wonder what my process is when beginning a painting.
It is a very spiritual process, and a form of oneness and healing for me.
I usually spend an hour every morning meditating focusing my mind on whatever I choose to. It ranges from current events, suffering, my own issues, and usually silence.
I heavily involve myself in Qi-Gong (Chi-Kung) after meditating as it serves as a physical way to get the energy within me to properly flow. It also serves a much higher purpose, allowing me to rid myself of negative energy and thoughts.
Qi/Chi  is a powerful energy and form within us and all around us. To be able to harness and utilize to heal oneself is the ultimate form of self-expression.
After I balance my mind with my body, my upper and lower, I begin to paint.

Peace be with you


Solvent 1 Installation Shots

17 Aug

Another photo post!  Pictured below is the gallery installation of the show at Second Floor Gallery.  Previously, our art happenings provided intimate, personal spaces for viewers as they occurred in a home.  We curated a salon style installation at this public gallery space, intending to somewhat channel this intimacy, and serving to display Solvent’s dynamism and a certain cohesiveness of work.

The stage area

Adnan Razvi’s “COS”

Includes works by Jack Sheely, Spencer Brown-Pearn, Frank Tringali, Zachary Morriss, Adnan Razvi, Jason Parry, and Kia Wright

Includes works by Spencer Brown-Pearn, Adnan Razvi, and Yaseen Benhalim

Includes works by Janan Siam

Includes works by Frank Tringali, Jack Sheely, and Adnan Razvi

Includes works by Frank Tringali, Yaseen Benhalim, and Adnan Razvi