Sean Foley: Ruse
Jan 23, 2010Dec 31, 2011
Sean Foley's new work Ruse occupies the over 100-foot long wall outside of the Hunter Center for the Performing Arts. Foley found the distorted, disproportionately long and narrow space appealing for a new work; in it viewers can never quite take in a singular image all at once, and instead are left to put the pieces together in their minds, to turn glimpses into a whole. Ruse begins with ideas of camouflage, a topic that has filtered into the artist's work in the past.
Foley's practice stems from painting but expands the medium beyond traditional definitions pushing it off the canvas and onto the wall -- beyond figure and beyond abstraction into a kind of battle between wonder and the monstrous. Foley's imagery explodes from his paintings into the realm of installation where he depicts the monstrous as shrouded in bright candy colors, hiding its true nature much in the way that carnivalesque imagery and camouflage function to make the viewer see the magic surface rather than the darker reality. Foley's monsters represent life, which in itself exists as a continuous cultural camouflage from Fox News to images of wartime and depression. In Ruse, Foley provides the viewer with a space to contemplate the mystery that lies beyond the image.
Ruse reveals itself through camouflage, optical illusions, and shadows. The installation is made up of traditionally mounted paintings, wall drawing, and various sized laser-cut object/characters that pivot off the wall. When first approaching the wall it becomes clear that its form is not stable, in fact it has been altered into an undulating wave to further heighten the wall's already fragmented viewing. The view of this space is further compounded by an adjacent wall of small paned windows which will also add to the fragmented aspect of Foley's work.This distortion serves as a kind of camouflage, what lies just beyond view is a mystery for but a moment, as the viewer can continue to travel down the space to see more.
Foley states: "I seek to lure the audience with a formal color, shape, scale, which introduce more questions and provoke their imaginations. It is not about 'knowing' but about ways of knowing. Questions posed within the 'event' or action of the installation or the imagination of the viewer." In the end, this "knowing" becomes the ruse, or camouflage, for beneath what is known is just another bend in the wall or monster around the corner.
A graduate from the Herron School of Art in Indianapolis, Foley earned an MFA from The Ohio State University. He has had numerous solo exhibition, including Rubes, Scuttlebutt & Loggerheads at Irvine Contemporary in Washington DC; Phantasmagoria at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockport, and Allston Skirt Gallery, Boston, MA; and has been part of many group exhibitions, including the Biennial Exhibition at the Portland Museum of Art where in 2003 he was the first artist to win both the Juror's Award and the Purchase Prize, he also won the Purchase Prize at the 2009 Biennial; Big Bang: Abstraction in the 21st Century at the Decordova Museum, Lincoln, Mass.; a two-persnn show with Michael Oatman at the Mary Ryan Gallrey, NY; and Cryptozoology at the Bates College Museum of Art, Lewiston, Maine. Foley has held residencies at the Fine Arts Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, Ca; the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, R.I. as an Ohio Arts Council Fellow; and the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art in Omaha, Nebraska. His work is in the collections of The Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, Mass.; Bates College Museum of Art, Lewiston, Maine; Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, Maine; Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Maine; and the Decordova Museum, Lincoln, Mass. Formally the head of the painting department at Maine College of Art, Foley currently teaches at Ohio State University and just completed a large-scale commission for the Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio. He will be a follow at the Vermont Studio Center in February 2011