Cellar Door: Brian Fekete and Nathan Schiel

2 February - 16 March 2012

571 Projects is pleased to present Cellar Door, an exhibition of new works by artists Brian Fekete and Nathan Schiel, curated by Joe Elliott. This is Fekete and Schiel's first exhibition with 571 Projects, and Schiel's first exhibition in New York City.


Often cited as an example of phonasthetics, here Cellar Door forefronts the concept of thresholds. The hidden, forgotten and stratified belong to the cellar, and a door grants or denies passage into this alternate realm. In literature gateways, portals and even rabbit holes are used as a device to define the transition between perceived truth and enlightenment, and the few who gain access must earn it. Painters Fekete and Schiel both explore similar boundaries between an apparent surface reality and an enigmatic world below in their work on view at 571 Projects. Activating similar thresholds, they challenge us to engage and interact with their work.


Believing in the potential of progress rather than a preoccupation with the past, Schiel builds his paintings via an unrelenting system of layers.  Cabin (2011, oil on canvas, 40 x 30 in.) is heavily repainted, revealing only the slightest hint of that which lies beneath. As a result of this stratification our visual understanding is restricted by the physicality of the tangible layers. Adorning the surface of his abstract paintings, Schiel delicately grounds us in the shadows of trompe l'oeil, once again referencing depth though ultimately teasing us with concealed histories. Schiel does not intend to restrict the viewer from the origins of the work, but he asks us to look closely for windows into past layers, revealing the true personality of each painting.


In contrast to Schiel's opaque layers pierced by windows, Fekete uses a latticework of juxtaposed imagery.  Thrusting us deep into a medley of visual symbolism, he challenges logic and convention on a cerebral level. In Serotonin Serenade (2011, ink and gouache on paper, 50 x 38 in.)a distorted image of a brain floats against a boundless, decoratively patterned void. Aided by an extensive image library consisting of automobile catalogues, anatomical prints, and historical illustrations, Fekete uses a process that Elliott describes as 'analog Photoshop.' Favoring the photocopier and projector over the convenience of their digital counterparts, he intertwines elements of nature, science, and religion. Through distortion and re-contextualization of these images, Fekete celebrates their similarities and hopes that we too might open our minds, taking a daunting yet critical step into his fantastical world.


Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Fekete received his BFA and MFA from the Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan. Most recently he has exhibited at SoapBox Gallery, NY, Edward Thorp Gallery, NY, Suzanne Hilberry Gallery, MI and Bunting Gallery, MI. His work is represented in multiple private and institutional collections including, The Detroit Institute of the Arts, CB Commercial and Miller, Cranfield, Paddock and Stone. Born in Denver Colorado, Schiel received his BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. In 2011 Schiel was awarded a full scholarship and teaching fellowship to The University of Massachusetts Amherst. This will be Schiel's first exhibition in New York City.


Joe Elliott is a New York City-based independent curator and the founder of Kingsley Elliott, an online gallery dedicated to supporting and promoting emerging artists via pop-up exhibitions.  Elliott received his BFA from Rhode Island School of Design and his Masters in Visual Arts Administration from New York University.