125 Newbury presents Face Values, a group exhibition that brings together artists who deal with the problem of the human face.
Public Reception Friday, June 9, 2023, from 6 - 8 PM.
Encompassing painting, drawing, and photography, the exhibition includes the work of more than twenty artists who employ a diverse range of practices to explore a shared set of questions: How do we recognize a person in a face? When is a portrait a likeness and when is it an icon? When is a face a mask, and when is it a stranger, a lover, a friend? Addressing these and other questions, the works in this exhibition confront the human face in all its complexity, intimacy, and strangeness.
The exhibition includes works by Richard Avedon, Georg Baselitz, Amoako Boafo, Chuck Close, Eric Fischl, Alex Katz, Nina Katchadourian, David Hockney, Peter Hujar, Ana Mendieta, Piet Mondrian, Gordon Parks, Irving Penn, Elizabeth Peyton, Andy Robert, Lucas Samaras, Julian Schnabel, Kiki Smith, Papay Solomon, Henry Taylor, Andy Warhol, Sydney Vernon, and Zhang Huan. Face Values opens June 9 at the gallery’s 395 Broadway location in Tribeca and remains on view through July 28.
From Andy Warhol’s infamous depictions of instantly recognizable celebrity visages to Zhang Huan’s ash paintings of anonymous historical figures, the face reveals itself as an ideology: a locus where mythology is encoded, memory transmitted, and desire crystallized. But the face is also a visual structure, which Piet Mondrian explores in a 1911 self-portrait that hovers on the knife-edge between figuration and abstraction. Taking up this tradition of modernist fragmentation, the analytical images of Chuck Close break down the face into constituent parts only to reconstitute it through the persistence of vision; while Georg Baselitz explodes and reconstructs the face through color, energy, and gesture.
In photographic self-portraits by Ana Mendieta, Nina Katchadourian, and Lucas Samaras, the face becomes an engine of performativity and a constructor of self. Photographs by Warhol and Irving Penn meanwhile look outward, using the camera’s gaze to render the faces of others as icons. For Avedon, the face is a politics; while for Peter Hujar and Kiki Smith, it becomes a screen for pathos, a cipher for the martyr and the saint. In his self-portraits, Samaras reveals the face as a mirror, a totem for otherworldly selfhood—a condition literalized in Sydney Vernon’s depiction of a face refracted in a hall of mirrors. Gordon Parks uses photography to unveil the everyday sublime in the faces of others, while the paintings of Amoako Boafo and Henry Taylor orchestrate the materiality of painting to hold likeness and identity in suspension. Eric Fischl, Elizabeth Peyton, and Andy Robert reveal the face as a site of closeness, care, and affinity.
Though radically different, each of the artists in the exhibition explores the possibilities of portraiture—as aesthetics, ethics, and politics—to investigate the powers of the human visage, asking how the face is also an interface: a threshold where we locate the specificity of a person.
“The face is a politics.”
– Deleuze and Guattari
Artists in the Exhibition