“For the most part people are not curious except about themselves.” – John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent
Coen Young knows this. Thus, he shrewdly leverages our abundant narcissistic urge simultaneously engaging and disrupting our gaze. Young’s ongoing series, however mirror-like, obstruct pure reflection through the glitches of material and contingencies of making. Whatever hope or chance we wished we had to glimpse ourselves in a tranquil pool, to even pretend that we are seeking anything other than our own appreciation, is undone by the veils of distortion that his wilfully faltering alchemy invites.
Selfie stick in hand, Narcissus would’ve got up and left long ago, in search of a new, more flattering reflecting pool. It’s not that Young’s mirrors don’t reward our attention, it’s just that they have long denied any obligation to adulate in this mutual exchange between object and viewer.
And in this culture that relentlessly, even voluntarily confuses recognition with understanding, Young’s faltering mirrors compel us to ask what it is that we see, what might we feel, what we can sense about ourselves, without the comfort of likeness and the dull amusement of self-absorption?
Good painting, like literature should and does make us curious – surely that is what Steinbeck sought – that by being curious we elevate our sentient selves, by being alert to the possibility of an unexpected encounter. On the face of it this seems like very little to ask for, but perhaps it is increasingly rare when the most common image we make, save and look at is of ourselves…or our dog…
– Andrew Jensen
“I don’t care what you think unless it is about me.”– Kurt Cobain
Fox Jensen McCrory is thrilled to present six new works by Coen Young at the Auckland gallery. This is the third solo exhibition the gallery has presented of Young’s works. His work has also been included in Portrait Without a Face (Sydney/Auckland), The Authority of Death (Sydney/Auckland) and at Art Basel Hong Kong. Young’s work is held in collections around the world and most recently acquired by both the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney.