blackbird spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1


ADAPTATION SYNDROME  |  Painting in Contemporary Image Culture

Curators’ Introduction:
Reappearing Out of Everything

“Art will not disappear into nothingness; it will disappear into everything.”
 —Julio Garcia Espinoza, from Toward an Imperfect Cinema

Adaptation Syndrome: Painting in Contemporary Image Culture acknowledges that Espinoza’s prediction has been realized. This exhibition embraces the fact that the most persuasive means of visual production no longer rests with artists alone, but with media gurus, theme-park designers, scientists, fashion photographers, the military, advertising designers, and computer engineers, among others. A few years ago, the painter Leon Golub remarked that science has become more creative than science fiction. Similarly, in a world where the primary language in almost every field of endeavor—from science and medicine to communication and technology to commerce and entertainment—is visual, contemporary culture has become in many respects more creative than visual art.

 Adaptation Syndrome
 January 21 - March 13, 2005
 Visual Arts Center of Richmond

Adaptation Syndrome is not about promoting a particular stance about this pervasive image culture, pro or con, but treats its historical, technological, and theoretical context as a given. The exhibition explores the array of possibilities that image culture makes available to painters, addressing the necessity of adapting to its evolving nature and increasingly seductive presence. Rather than appropriating visual culture or ironically commenting on it—familiar strategies shaping art over the last several decades—these twelve painters recognize a correspondence between diverse means of visual production and allow this recognition to inventively inform their work. In doing so, they consciously seek to answer two questions:

What does it mean to make paintings in a culture in which art has disappeared into everything?

When almost anyone can create an arresting visual image, how do painters respond?