Frank J. Stockton | True Believers

Frank J. Stockton | True Believers

May 21 - July 1, 2016

Samuel Freeman is pleased to present Frank J. Stockton’s debut solo exhibition, True Believers. Pairing new, large-scale paintings with recent smaller works on paper and canvas, the exhibition will represent the focus of Stockton’s practice since graduating from UCLA’s Graduate Fine Arts Program in 2015.

Stockton’s energetic paintings build upon disparate mythologies, combining elements of Western religion with literary symbolism and historical events into a singular narrative language. These amoral allegories are meditations upon the genesis of myth and memory.  When the primary subject, a male figure comically nude but for a superhero’s cape, strides off with a naked woman slung over his shoulder, it is left unresolved whether the act is one of abduction or salvation. Unlike the singleminded crusaders of popular fiction, Stockton’s shambling Übermensch is perpetually caught between morality and depravity. 

The cadmium red mark employed in all of Stockton’s recent work evokes blood and passion, predisposing an impression of quick and facile work.  To the contrary, when engaged in person it is visibly clear that each mark has been debated, questioned, and quickly painted over if found wanting.  The scarred and layered surfaces that result are an act of revelation, not hiding.  Their sophistication is balanced with vulgarity, strength tied to fragility, morality tempered with corruption. De Kooning-esque surfaces slowly reveal tired, huddled masses and amorous antagonists, while bouncing pink phalluses denounce and venerate their own symbolic meaning. Exposing the unstretched canvas edges, these paintings openly carry the indexes of their making, the rough cuts and imperfections physically acknowledging the frailties of Stockton’s subjects. Collectively, the works invite the viewer to look past the fictionalized, and indeed artificial, contrast between good and evil to contemplate the inherently subjective ambiguity of these primal forces that link our histories, our stories and our selves.

Frank J. Stockton was born in Santa Ana, California in 1980. He received his MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles and his BFA from Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA. He was a recipient of the UCLA Graduate Fellowship as well as the Lorser Feitelson & Helen Lundberg Feitelson Arts Foundation Award. In 2015 Stockton participated in a residency at the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture, in Skowhegan, ME. Notable exhibitions include INSIDE/OUTSIDE: Works from theSkowhegan Archives, curated by Michelle Grabner at Skowhegan (Waterville, ME), TOP COAT, Curated by Roger Herman at The Pit (Glendale, CA) and The Status of Portraiture, Curated by Grant Vetter at Autonomie Projects (Los Angeles, CA). He currently lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.

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