Almine Rech is pleased to present 'Neverland', the first solo show by the Brooklyn based painter Sam McKinniss with the gallery.
Once upon a time, painting died. Hers was not a tragic death, she faded slowly—sputtering and flickering into her goodnight, shrouded in myth. While the whole story is terribly complicated, it boils down to the tale of a maiden whose life-force was eclipsed by a new-fangled monster: photography. But just like all fairytales or soap operas, no one ever really dies. Renewal, rebirth, rehab…it’s all just part and parcel to the genre.
Fast forward to the 1990’s. Painting had arisen from her tomb, suddenly, her eternal spirit summoned by a cadre of artists that dared to put oil to canvas. Ditching their cameras, these anachronistic fetishists instead painted from photographs. But if “Painting is painting’s favorite food,” as the wise Asger Jorn once said, it must have been that nobody had any paintings to snack on. Rather than starve, these artists looted the cookie jars of mass media: People, The New York Post, SPIN magazine, and other sundry tabloids.
Then the internet happened. A twenty-first century figure, Sam McKinniss was spared all the drama of centuries past. Liberated from these historical squabbles around painting’s primacy or lack of legitimacy, he came of age as an artist with unfettered relationships to his medium and celebrity worship, enabled by this other monster called “Google.” If portraiture has always been about power, then McKinniss is the first artist since Peyton to convincingly merge "the singularity, preciousness, and longevity of the painted picture” with the ephemeral celebrity of his subjects, creating an oil-on-canvas fairytale of our present age.
McKinniss has emerged as a neo-Magical Realist, combining “the actual and the uncanny,” transfiguring the reality of the internet age into his depiction of our contemporary “Neverland.”
- Alison M. Gingeras