Andrew Fish returns to Childs Gallery for his second solo exhibition, Retro Pictures, on view September 9 through November 13, 2021. The exhibition explores Fish’s upbringing, adolescence, and adulthood as part of Generation X, whose members straddled the 20th and 21st centuries as analog children and digital adults. Retro Pictures is a personal journey for Fish – an introspective look at events and images of the 1980s and 90s that helped shape him – but includes many recognizable hallmarks, icons, and flashpoints of the period that speak broadly to a collective sense of memory.
Seeking what it means to be a Gen-Xer artist at midlife, Fish navigates through self-exploration as it relates to the events, ideas, attitudes, and products prevalent in the era of his adolescence. Retro Pictures, therefore, functions as a sort of pictorial autoethnography, in which Fish’s personal experiences are connected to wider cultural, political, and social meanings and understandings. By retroactively looking at, and subsequently painting, past experiences, Fish investigates how the influence of pop culture, popular thought, and the environment shaped not only his contemporaneous experiences, but also established hopes, fears, and perspectives that continue to this day.
Fish looked to the internet for imagery he could paint and recontextualize to be more personal and profound. It is, perhaps, ironic for someone with a pre-internet childhood to mine the online world for reminiscent content, but the process allows Fish to blend familiar images with his own visual language to illustrate the relation between a past event or idea and his own memories. The individual paintings in Retro Pictures are thus both public and personal, containing largely identifiable images but particular resonance with the artist. The body of work as a whole, however, forms an intimate self-portrait, a record of a person rather than a historical time or place. In works like Breakdance and Berlin Wall, Fish looks beyond the familiarity of chest bumping dancers and hammer-wielding Berliners to probe what these images mean to him personally. Breakdancing was more than just dance, rather an entire cultural movement that encompassed music and fashion, drawing in Fish from a young age. The fall of the Berlin Wall, which occurred when the artist was finishing high school, presented a hopeful respite from the constant threat of nuclear annihilation and echoed a feeling of liberation anticipated by becoming an adult.
To more fully investigate the theme of Retro Pictures, Fish has also branched into new artistic territory, producing several sculptural works that complement his paintings. Fish’s sculptures punctuate the exhibition with mashups of memorabilia and ready-mades that add poignancy, humor, and reminiscence to the show. His Bicycle Wheel is a wink and nod to Marcel Duchamp’s famous design, with a Gen X twist. Using a BMX wheel, Fish imbues the sculpture with childhood memories of freestyle riding and acrobatics, while also contradicting Duchamp’s use of found objects by embracing a specific history and meaning through a shiny, new object.
An opening reception will be held Thursday, September 9, 4pm to 8pm. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org to attend.