Capsule Shanghai is delighted to present New York-based artist Anthony Iacono's China debut exhibition Body Double. Through a series of collages of cut-out painted paper, Iacono invites the viewers to peep into nocturnal interiors charged with psyches that revolve around courtship and rendezvous.
Sometimes I take the long way home. Walking through Brooklyn Heights at dusk. The chalky stones that make up apartment buildings absorb any street light and all of the architectural molding details get lost and fuzzy. Parlor floor families clean up dinner tables. Their long rectangular windows cast the occasional harsh bright fracture of light onto the outside which masks the rest of the block into a shadow. It's always a scene from a Hopper painting. My favourite part is looking in and seeing how they decorate and what they hang on walls. Their taste is usually disappointing. Sometimes there is eye contact, which is always uncomfortable. But it's purely innocent escapist strolling. They would have closed their curtains if they didn't want to be seen. Each night window is an illuminated image that's begged to be looked at and into.
Informed by earlier generations of American artists working in the realm of representation, such as the Picture Generation and the Chicago Imagists, Iacono's collages reach a level of unmatched precision and sophistication in evoking the psychological capacities of images. His modus operandi consists of painting subtle colour nuances on flat surfaces in graphic design aesthetics, before incisively cutting out the necessary pieces and seamlessly assembling them into mundane yet enigmatic images. Despite the matting quality of paper, these portraits–in the loose sense of the term–generate a chiaroscuro in their own right. For the works on view, Iacono has adopted a colour palette of a polished gem, setting illuminated figures against the intriguing hues of sapphire, emerald, ruby, and other inherent colors of the night time atmosphere.
The bodies depicted in Iacono's collages are single figures, dressed in casual yet suave attires. Their commonplace poses set against backdrops of enigmatic blocks of colours of the night, speak volumes of their possible introversion and suspicious personalities. Yet, darkness affords them anonymity and can free them from any forms of insecurity and discrimination. Unsurprisingly, these works resonate with the burgeoning film genres of erotic thriller and horror films of the 1980s and 1990s. In particular, one discovers their shared props such as blinds, belts, phone cords, etc. that heighten the potency of danger and desire. While the erotic thrillers flirt with a viewer's anticipation for the story to unfold, Iacono's collages dispense the prelude and outcomes of various entanglements, instead usher the viewer to inspect the details in his meticulously crafted works.
Although the artist has conceived the notion of body doubles before having watched the 1984 film of the same title, his drawing for the two similarly looking figures in Body Double (2020) sets the tone for this exhibition. Unlike many of his previous works that juxtapose mundane objects next to body parts in provoking scenarios, the characters, and scenes in this exhibition mimic film-stills. With the contemporary modes of hooking-up and discovering sexual partners in the virtual world of dating apps, perhaps the mobile phone screen has become what the television or even the big screen served a few decades ago, as a window into another world. And as one swipes left and right, the unbeknown aliases satisfy our desires and fantasies, appease our alienation, insecurity, and anchor our inhibition at bay. The act of looking and observing, whether on screen or in person, are never what they really appear to be. Without further spoiling the pleasure of looking, we invite you to Body Double, where you may discover your chimera of the mind.
Text by Fiona He. Courtesy Capsule Shanghai.