Wall Street International, January 19, 2014
Open Ended Portfolio—2013—61 x 61cm—linen, acrylic paint, US currency (hand cut), nylon fishing line
Financial Statements will bring together Blane's controversial series of mixed media works on Belgian linen - outlawed in the United States and showing in London for the first time. The exhibition will also feature the artist's 'Abandoned Buildings' installation—originally shown in 1980 in the groundbreaking Times Square Show, and recently revived in last year's Times Square Show Revisited.
An original member of the East Village 'Downtown scene' of 1980s New York, Blane counted among his contemporaries the likes of Jeff Koons, Jenny Holzer, Julian Schnabel, Robert Mapplethorpe and Jean-Michel Basquiat - artists working differently, but collaboratively towards new and revolutionary trends in contemporary art. Blane's practice is rooted in his local environment. In a move away from Minimalism, Conceptual Art and Neo-Expressionism, the dominant movements during the artist's early career - Blane found inspiration in the abandoned tenements and urban recreational spaces of his immediate surroundings - unlikely, yet decidedly potent vehicles for examining universal concepts such as fertility, religiosity and immortality. With this fusion of vistas, both local and universal, the artist forged his own brand of folk art, with a keen emphasis on authenticity and materiality.
The materials are the letters of the language that I speak
This series of Financial Statements and Financial Prayer Rugs embody the conundrum of capital exchange in today's globalised world, taking as its departure point the Wall Street financial district where the artist currently has his studio. These multifaceted mixed media works typify Blane's artistic concerns with materiality, and the purity of his visual language. Hand-cut and defaced US dollars lose their status as legal tender to become a hybrid germ/sperm specimen, symbolic of both the destructive and beneficial capacities of globalised capital. In his signature direct approach, money becomes the very material through which the artist delivers his message. Politically charged though his work may be, there is an unmistakeable beauty in the ambivalence of Blane's language: we are simultaneously and refreshingly captivated and challenged by works of supreme aesthetic magnetism. In the spirit of Russian aesthetician Georgi Plekhanov, Blane immortalises the shifting ideological character of contemporary times through art that certainly is not for art's sake.
A Brooklyn native, Blane graduated from the Cooper Union School of Art in 1974, where he studied under the tutelage of German conceptual artist, Hans Haacke. Upon graduation he received a medal from the British Royal Society of the Arts, for excellence in sculpture and an exhibition at Artists Space. Following the seminal Times Square exhibition in 1980, Blane's career took off with solo shows at White Columns, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center (now MoMA PS1), Franklyn Furnace and at the Paula Allen Gallery during the 80s and early 90s. Blane has exhibited extensively in solo and group shows in New York, San Francisco and Puerto Rico, where the artist has recently established an alternative studio - adding a new dimension to his folkloristic practice.
Growth Portfolio, Declining Portfolio, Value Portfolio—2013—61 x 61cm—linen, acrylic paint, US currency (hand cut), nylon fishing line