Chris Cosnowski at Lyons Wier Gallery
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March 1 – 31, 2012 Artists’ Reception: Thursday, March 1, 2012 (6-8pm)
Nearest subway: C,E @ 23rd St & 8th Ave
Trophies have played a critical role throughout history. Beneficiaries of these awards take pleasure in receiving them, not because the trophy has monetary value, but because it symbolizes success. Those that win them cherish the satisfaction and legacy that is associated with it, and revel within the symbolism of the prize itself, victory. Trophies are, and will continue to remain, a visible goal to which any competitor is geared, and harbor the unspoken sacrifices that victory so often demands. In American Metal, artist Chris Cosnowski utilizes and exploits the intrinsic value and symbolism of these treasured keepsakes. His paintings envision a nostalgic no-holds-barred America. The works allude to the idealism of American values, yet somehow the narratives speak volumes about shifting ideals via the represented objects. What appears to be solid and significant is trumped by the discovery that the metal is an illusion. These beloved objects aren’t gold but merely spray plated plastic with no real weight - an apt metaphor for a country in economic turmoil due to its gratuitous and gluttonous pursuit of all that glitters. Cosnowski's figurines exemplify different aspects of American society: the rodeo trophies illustrate our romanticized past and the wild west in all its rugged testosterone-soaked glory; the cheerleaders embody an obsession with sports, beauty and social standing; the motocross continues the sports metaphor and also typifies America’s love for speed, daredevils and gasoline; the bodybuilder pokes fun at the prevailing image of the country as mighty and heroic and evaluates its preoccupation with and perception of physical beauty; and the policeman, whereby the artist states, “I used this imagery to represent the need for excessive security just to live ‘freely’ today.” The artist goes on to say, “America is ostensibly a meritocracy, and I think we can all agree that hard work, talent, creativity and integrity should be rewarded. American exceptionalism, however, seems to have been largely replaced with greed and a craving for celebrity. American metal (mettle) used to mean something solid.”
Chris Cosnowski received his MFA in Painting from Northwestern University and his BFA from Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, OH. His work has been exhibited in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and London and has appeared in publications such as New American Paintings (Midwest Edition), American Art Collector and Chicago Magazine. Cosnowski currently lives and works in Chicago and has been represented by Lyons Wier Gallery since 2001.