James Fuentes opens Stipan Tadić's exhibition '36 Views of NYC'

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James Fuentes opens Stipan Tadić's exhibition '36 Views of NYC'
Stipan Tadić, Late Afternoon, 170 St., 2022. Oil on canvas, 18 x 14 inches.

NEW YORK, NY.- James Fuentes has now opened '36 Views of NYC', a new body of work by Croatian artist Stipan Tadić. Taking its title from Fritz Lang’s 1927 titular film and referencing Hokusai’s woodblock-print series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, the series, like its name, is a mosaic of references. Throughout the 36 paintings on view, Tadić maps the neighborhoods surrounding the D line train from the Bronx to Coney Island. The series is the result of a year-long walking tour during which Tadić documented well-tread and lesser-known cityscapes, taking photographs, collecting historical references, and observing passers-by. Allowing his mind to wander and his senses to guide him, the artist absorbed locales where he has little context and no personal roots. Instead, Tadić activates his imagination to reveal the microcultures of each enclave; scenes where landmarks like Greenwood Cemetery and the Apollo Theater intersect with cues from religious iconography, folk art, and video games—a topography layered with both the quotidian and allegorical.

From a background in drawing and comics, Tadić’s oil paintings are graphically rich. With a fine-tip paint brush, he composes atmospheric backgrounds around scenes that are highly detailed yet playful, even deadpan—reminiscent of the flattened imagery of the 1980s animation that he grew up watching. For Tadić, cartoon aesthetics are a means of achieving legibility through a kind of abstraction, creating non-specific characters that his audience can project themselves onto or absorb. Though the path through these paintings may appear roundabout, 36 Views of NYC contains the distinct narrative tempo of a story propelled forward by personal impressions, jokes, and feelings, overlaid with surreal directives lifted from game design, from navigation symbols to battery-percentage icons and public-service announcements.

One such bizarre intervention appears in 9 Grand Concourse Residential - 167 St, an apartment building over which Tadić paints a grayscale bust of the 20th-century painter Ralph Fasanella floating in a cloud. An omniscient forefather of urban imagination and major influence to Tadić’s work, Fasanella—born in the Bronx and raised in Little Italy—made paintings that address the complex socio-political dynamics of working-class life, constructing Manhattan cityscapes with kaleidoscopic vistas populated by anonymous characters. Similarly, Tadić boldly zooms in and out of his compositions, stacking landscapes that incorporate street-level and birds-eye views; slicing into buildings to reveal interior and exterior scenes from metropolitan life.

Within each of the thirty-six views, Tadić creates a portal into a unique psychogeography: a space that infuses socialist and surrealist ideologies to contemplate how a geographic environment can consciously or unconsciously shape the emotions and dynamics of a community. Tadić’s philosophy of urban exploration comes alive in this coded city: a place where characters are signified and narrative is malleable. Across acid-green skies and fluorescent bodega isles, Tadić’s New York is simultaneously otherworldly and familiar—an iconic American city rendered in a visual language all his own.

Concurrently on view at JamesFuentes.Online, Tadić presents his related series of watercolor sketches of the Bronx. James Fuentes Press Volume 8 accompanies the artist’s exhibition, detailing the works in the show alongside new texts in English and Croatian by Julián Sánchez González and Andrija Škare, respectively. The publication will launch at the gallery on September 5, 2023.

Stipan Tadić was born in Zagreb, Croatia, in 1986. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 2011 and received his MFA in Visual Arts from Columbia University School of the Arts in 2020. His first solo exhibition was in 2009, after which he has been featured in numerous solo and group presentations. Tadić received the Best Young Artist Award from HDLU, Zagreb in 2013 and was awarded 1st Prize at the International Comic Book Festival in Lodz, Poland in 2018. Tadić currently lives and works in New York.

James Fuentes
Stipan Tadić: '36 Views of NYC'
August 2nd, 2023 - September 5th, 2023

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