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Swiss Cheese and The Doors: A One Night Stand

Nate Lowman

11.04.2012 | 12.05.2012
Massimo De Carlo, Milano

Nate Lowman uses pre-existing photos, phrases, icons and idioms - from media reality, everyday life, his

own mind and memory - to craft a formal and strategic approach around a personal and cultural

identification with images, drawing on histories of collage, appropriation, and assemblage since the 1960s,

including Sigmar Polke, Cady Noland, and Richard Prince. Swiss Cheese and The Doors: A One Night Stand

is a diverse new group of works - paintings in pointillist alkyd and oil technique, a theatrical lighting

installation, found objects, and a new series of shaped canvases - built to shift between narrative themes

and experiential space.

Swiss Cheese

The shaped canvas is an invention which allows for both spatial and pictorial depiction. For Lowman, it

opens cultural and historical dimensions - grafting bulletholes or a scrawled Mickey Mouse hat onto a 3D

hunk of cheese - conflating or confounding an advanced joke with "advanced art". (Swiss) cheese, in general

and as painted here, could embody the linguistic forms of the polyseme (a word with multiple meanings),

the metonym (something not named in itself but called by the name of something closely associated with

it), and the cliche. Another series of canvases shaped like car air fresheners printed with the stars and

stripes exists in a similarly odd universe: pre-packaged with mixed messages, their inherent absurdity is

elaborated in Rastafarian or Italian flag hues and off-register Xerox dots.

The Doors

Symbolic of mundane or occult thresholds, the doors of Swiss Cheese... are literal and illusory, salvaged and

painted entrances and impasses. And like swiss cheese, doors signify broadly, spatially, and paradoxically:

closed, hidden spaces, partial glimpses passing through holes or glass panes. Swiss cheese on a mouse trap,

or a trap door, used to escape. "No one here gets out alive," Jim Morrison sang, his miragelike, flaming face

method-acted by Val Kilmer on the DVD cover for the eponymous Oliver Stone biopic. Kilmer reportedly

practiced Doors songs daily for six months in preparation for the part, requesting that he be called Jim on


As a UCLA film student, the real Jim Morrison was influenced by but not disciplined in the psychologically

and spiritually charged techniques of European experimental theater. He rearranged his surname into the

amalgam Mr. Mojo Risin', altering preexisting elements to open up a heightened persona to chant,

channel, and dissolve into ether: the classical upper atmosphere, or the ingredient in Gamsol solvent, the

mineral spirit that soaks orange and yellow oil into linen.

One Night Stand

In Nate Lowman's images, mistakes and bad memories can be quiet. Stillness can be found in heated

moments or flaws major and minor. When rendered dot by dot, a waving drunk in a crowded bar looks

calm, or a dismal sex joke appears pure and condensed. His oversized inkjet prints stretched on canvas are

photos or scraps of paper enlarged to billboard scale, as if made to blend with impressive and looming

images in city streets. Scuffed and stained with paint, they are both concrete and associative, like language

characters strung together to form a detached and hallucinatory grammar, or an esoteric word-key, dull

elements combined to unlock a place beyond this one.

Nate Lowman
Ritratto Nate Lowman