Palm Springs Art Museum seems to have always punched above its weight. Perhaps it is thanks to generous legacies and a wealthy patronage or simply a fabulous destination-worthy building worthy of a much larger destination.
Once again it packs a serious punch with its latest exhibition from Robert Longo – Storm of Hope: Law & Disorder. This is yet another spectacular success.
In recent years the political aspects of Longo’s work have become increasingly pointed —with focus on power, justice, and humanity, through the perspective of rage and urgency.
Associated with the Pictures Generation, he understands images as neither neutral nor objective but rather with an inherent point of view that could be uncovered, revealed, and deployed as a form of critique and beauty.
Longo’s practice begins with identifying a subject of interest that is usually familiar to us. He then sets to work and transforms them into large-scale drawings in charcoal to create what he calls “the perfect image.”
The result of months of labor-intensive processes to plan, alter, perfect, and then execute these are often mistaken for photographs. However Longo’s artworks are so hyperrealistic that they could never in fact exist in reality. His visual language developed out of an acknowledgment of and reverence for media images that surrounds us – what Longo refers to as ‘the image storm’.
For the ‘storm’ of this exhibition – Storm of Hope: Law & Disorder – Longo has chosen to show three branches of the American government: the Capitol, the Supreme Court, and the White House.
We are presented with massive art of a dimension that reflect the serious nature of the exhibition’s theme. Mounted on paper these vast works extend as much as 4 metres in height and six times that in width with results are closer to history paintings, not only in their massive scale but also in their weighty political subjects.
In a series of darkened rooms there are reverentially illuminated artworks representing the three branches of the US government: the Capitol, the Supreme Court, and the White House.
Each is derived from a critical moment in recent U.S. history – the presidency of Barack Obama, disputed nominations to the Supreme Court, and the presidency of Donald Trump and serve as key points in contemporary American history.
These are enduring institutions – the bedrock of American society – rendered as monumental and eternal, and yet events shake their foundations.
Also included in the exhibition are four more large-scale environmental and political works. With a close up of a vast iceberg he entitles Untitled (Iceberg for Greta Thunberg) that is solid, yet ephemeral, we are asked to consider the perils in taking the environment for granted.
Others refer to issues of the representation of history through its monuments, the perils faced by immigrants, and the fragility of the free press.
Robert Longo – Storm of Hope: Law & Disorder is at the Palm Springs Art Museum until 27 March 2022
For more information visit the Palm Springs Art Museum
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