Brian Fekete: Nostalgia Fun House: works on paper

26 October 2019 - 31 January 2020

571 Projects is pleased to present Nostalgia Fun House featuring a selection of works from artist Brian Fekete's Small Text and Encyclopedic Series. Employing intentionally distorted imagery of faces and people sourced from vintage advertising and historical encyclopedias, Fekete's carefully executed drawings warp between figuration and abstraction, becoming uncannily strange and intriguing. The familiar is stretched and condensed sometimes beyond the point of recognition, as though reflected in a fun house mirror. In his "Small Text Series" the artist uses the pages of a found 1943 trigonometry reference book printed with columns of numerical results as a support for his delicate, monochromatic watercolor pencil drawings, while in the "Encyclopedic Series," the figures are drawn in colored pencil and graphite on bark paper. Fekete subverts a kind of intrinsic nostalgia, suggesting perhaps the subjective and problematic quality of recorded history. His work often explores themes of the problematic and subjective nature of recorded histories, the uncanny, and larger questions of truth and authenticity.


No. 71 shows minimal visual warping, depicting a glamorous mid-century couple, the woman's sleekly coiffed pompadour echoing the dapper pomaded style worn by the man. In each other's arms on the right side of the work, the woman's head and body stretch across the page. In contrast, in No. 61, the same couple viewed from behind, is oddly compressed so that the woman's body becomes almost totemic, recognizable as human only through the hands at her waist. The regular, serious columns of figures on the page point to obsolescence: clumsy reference books replaced by streamlined technological advances.


Fekete states, "The motivations and methodologies typical of much of my work are concerned with creating new formal as well as metaphorical contexts for found and appropriated imagery.  Employing a wide range of wet, dry, and collaged media, the sources of this imagery are as far flung as zoology and theology, body parts and auto parts.  It has been slowly and methodically collected over many years.  It is often manipulated, recombined and distorted utilizing relatively low tech photomechanical (xerographic) processes which produce random results not easily dictated or controlled by the artist.  Limited control is a desired consequence which forces the artist to make decisions within the parameters of the individual outcomes of process.  These resulting distortions and re-combinations pose many possibilities for abstraction and visual readings not intended for the original image.  They also place the images in entirely new and sometimes unsettling contexts, ripe for personal commentary, thus, reinterpretation on various levels (i.e. political, religious and psychological).  In some depictions, science, nature and technology may be observed collaborating in unison.  One by one images are selected and grouped, often incongruously, then varying shifts in scale are introduced with a projector, building a uniquely distinct personal mythology and visual vocabulary.  My objective is to present refreshing new settings for psychological tableaux and phenomenological scenarios through formal language by injecting otherwise neutral imagery with layers of new meaning."


Now settled and working in Kingston, NY, Brian Fekete reached the Hudson Valley by way of Brooklyn and Detroit, where he was born in 1955. There, he received his BFA and MFA degrees, before moving to Brooklyn in 1997. Fekete has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Wayne State University, and grants from the Michigan Council for the Arts. His work can be seen in the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts, as well as numerous public and private collections, both in the US and abroad.