"I Want You To Want Me"
April 4th - May 16th
Marx & Zavattero, San Francisco, CA

...You wouldn't believe the things you didn't see,
Some pretty, some ugly.
And the lovely mirrorball reflected back them all
- Every triumph, every fight, under disco light.

-- Everything But The Girl, "Mirrorball"

Marx & Zavattero are proud to present the group exhibition I Want You To Want Me, featuring a dynamic collection of artists whose practice fetishizes and/or co-opts fashion and music as a personal strategy to get at deeper artistic, economic, political, sexual, and racial truths. On view April 4 - May 16, 2009, the show takes its title from Cheap Trick's yearning anthem in which the desire to be desired is the driving force. While this group of artists embraces fashion and music in their works, there is at the same time a common thread of a longing to be understood on each's own terms.

This unique exhibition highlights artists who shine a light on issues of class, sex, wealth, and politics, beginning with the use of clothes and fashionable interiors as a signifier of a gay subculture in the felt and acrylic work of James Gobel's "Bear" paintings; Kehinde Wiley's challenging of the conventional notion of portraiture through his depictions of young, urban African-American males fashioned in hip-hop attire, posturing in reference to heroic or religious figures of Old Masters paintings; and the manifestation of Marnie Weber's surreal art-rock group The Spirit Girls as an extension of her two- and three-dimensional artwork.

Many of the works exhibited in I Want You To Want Me were commissioned specifically for this exhibition and represent a wide variety of media. A recent large-scale digital photo collage by the L.A.-based art and music duo Simmons & Burke will be on view for the first time in San Francisco. Comprised of thousands of images and sound files meticulously collected from the Internet, their pieces are an overwhelming visual feast of obsessively constructed collage, magnified with fragmented and overlaid audio files of street noise, pop music, and miscellaneous sounds from TV shows. The result is a cacophony of sounds and images that staggeringly manifest today's digital consumerist culture. New-York based William Powhida's The Bastard Tour - a riotously funny, fictitious documentation of his life "on tour" as a boozed-up rock star - will be represented by one of his large paintings from that series. Melbourne-based Danius Kesminas formed PUNKASILA with seven graduates and students from the Indonesian Art Institute in Yogyakarta. The band plays original songs whose lyrics describe the full spectrum of political, cultural, and religious life in Indonesia, with exquisitely hand-crafted mahogany instruments that resemble rapid-fire automatic weapons like M-16s and AK-47s. For the first time on the West Coast, the band's camouflage batik uniforms, slogans, and video of past performances will be on display.

Also on view: a large ceiling installation of Kangol chandelier lamps and new shoelace on canvas "drip paintings" by Los Angeles-based artist Kendell Carter, which address his exploration of the relationships between art, design, and contemporary urban street culture; Libby Black's critique of the luxury lifestyle and a desire to belong and be "heard" will be well represented by a new full-scale paper replica of a luxury label microphone, perched on its stand, complete with a floor amp; and Hank Willis Thomas will exhibit a pair of 24K gold necklaces depicting traditional slave imagery, an incendiary comment on hip-hop "bling."

Additional highlights include gallery artist David Hevel's Rococo, candy-colored sculptural ode to pop diva Gwen Stefani that speaks to the absurdity of America's rampant infatuation with pop culture celebrities; a new painting by Las Vegas-based Tim Bavington, who injects a sense of rock-and-roll into his wildly vivid abstract stripe paintings that are based on songs or guitar solos by iconic and flamboyant rock bands like The Darkness and the Rolling Stones; two new graphite drawings by gallery artist Taravat Talepasand; and Marcel Dzama's Count Dracula LP, which includes a limited-edition lithograph box set titled The Cabin of Count Dracula, will round out the exhibition.

The opening reception on April 4 will feature a live performance by San Francisco's TEKNIQ, who describe themselves as "quite possibly the nation's best almost amateur dance troupe." Although the splendor of TEKNIQ's performance style really defies words, it can best be described as the most kick-ass junior high school talent show you've ever seen performed by adults.

Like art, both fashion and music are an important expression of modern culture. I Want You To Want Me celebrates the various forms of expression that this fusion elicits in all its glamour, fantasy, and social critique.

Marx & Zavattero
SF Weekly