Noah Becker embodies the postmodern hyphenate – his roles include editor of Whitehot Magazine of Contemporary Art, contributor to Art in America and other publications, professional jazz saxophonist, and, as exhibited in his current two-person show with David Goodman at Launch F18, artist. Each incarnation has a different significance for Becker, but as an artist, he seeks, in his own words, to "make my paintings as superficial and as meaning free as possible, to allow new readings of the work. Often artists create a context in advance that has less connection to the work then they think. This process of writers contextualizing my paintings happens later if at all." The show is on view until October 27th. The gallery's website is www.launchf18.com
Installation view of No Age – work by Noah Becker and David Goodman
For Men Who Appreciate History, 2012, oil on canvas
For his contribution to No Age, Becker presents four portraits of dapper men with well-coiffed hair – the images, except for a single self-portrait, are based off vintage photographs of British hair models. The paintings embody the uneasy relationship between commercial advertising and artistic expression; the highly-stylized presentation of the models in the original photographs is resituated within a traditional painted portraiture format, and as a result, their glossy surface is manually degraded. The shift suggests that the subjects have been humanized, and that, as with conventional portraiture, there is an insight to be gained by contemplating their faces. But their ambiguous origins, potentially as commercial imagery, problematize the conventions of the portraiture genre. There is undoubtably something to know in their faces, but it's unclear how we might arrive at this knowledge, or how we can resolve the contradictions of their status as outmoded relics that have been reanimated. Becker's work suggests that these are problems worth considering, even if answers remain out of our reach.
Visitor, 2012, oil on canvas
Self-Portrait, 2012, oil on canvas
Ancient One, 2012, oil on canvas