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Three artists, four artworks, at once deeply connected to Tucson, while extending into global networks far beyond. Rudans, post-WWII Latvian emigrant, loudly echoes Gauguin in his large-scale crudemanship, drawing the viewer into primitive, political, unadulterated dreamscapes, each brushstroke sparking fervent emotion. Mosset, burly Harley riding member of the avant-garde BMPT (look it up), a renown minimalist and Quantum observer now confronts the viewer in a subtler way. “Marine”, a new work of 2 aluminum panels ablaze in perfect duochrome, challenges our natural instinct for meaning. Unstable color elements beg for consideration. Creigh’s video art, a quickdrawn pistol shooting into a fractured salon of art patrons, Bang bang. A mental bridge is constructed between Mosset’s ultra modern purity and the playful wrath of Rudans. A shape shifting collage presented across 9 large TV screens, the piece neither dreams nor dares, as it folds into itself.
Rudans courtesy of Etherton Gallery
Olivier Mosset first became known in France for having been part of the famous BMPT group alongside Daniel Buren, Niele Toroni and Michel Parmentier. Since then he has been associated with a multitude of art historical movements, involving himself in both the European and American artistic and critical contexts.
In anticipation of many artists, who in the 1980s would use appropriation to critique Modernist authority, Mosset called into question the painter’s gesture and signature by sharing styles and dissolving authorship to reach a “degree zero” of painting. Mosset has remained committed to questioning painting as a historical object by, paradoxically, continuing to paint, turning to monochrome works on canvas and walls.
Mosset lives and works in Tucson, AZ. Since his emergence in the 1960s with BMPT, Mosset has exhibited extensively in galleries and museums worldwide. Recently he has been the subject of a solo exhibitions at Jean Paul Najar Foundation, Dubai, United Arab Emirates (2017); Hunter College Art Galleries, New York, NY (2016); The Power Station, Dallas, TX (2015); Musée regional d’art contemporain Languedoc-Roussilon à Sérignan, France (2013), and Kunsthalle Zürich, Switzerland (2012), among others. A retrospective of his work, Olivier Mosset: Travaux/Works 1966-2003, was presented at Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne, Switzerland and Kunstverein St. Gallen Kunstmuseum, Switzerland (2003). His work has been included in several group exhibitions including Manifesta 10, Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia (2014); Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, NY (2008); and he represented Switzerland in the 44th Venice Biennale (1990). His work is in the collections of such institutions as Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; National Gallery of Canada, Ontario; Albright Knox Gallery, Buffalo, NY, and Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne, Switzerland, among others.
Rudans wasn’t exactly a Viking–he was born in Latvia in 1933–but his larger-than-life story merited a hero’s sendoff, art-style. A refugee who suffered through World War II in a displaced-persons’ camp with his family, he landed in the United States as a teenager in 1949. In short order, he joined the Army, got his citizenship, studied art at the University of Wisconsin, became an art professor and then confounded his immigrant success story by dropping out to do art–and nothing but.
Art took precedence over living. On a visit I paid in 2000, paintings were stacked up against the walls in piles so deep that they had almost taken over the living room, leaving only a narrow space for a single bed. Giant skeletal sculptures of a man and dog occupied what must have once been a bedroom.
Paintings featuring images alternating between lovely Rousseau-like nudes and lecherous priests covered the walls, in between the heads of angels and devils carved out of scrap wood. Rudans would make art with whatever materials he could find.
Rudans loved painting the female nude, and often pictured women in gardens overflowing with flowers and fruits. But even progressive types occasionally balked at Rudans’ unapologetic sexual imagery. Back in 1990, patrons at Club Congress were so angry about an explicit female nude hung above the bar that the painting eventually was removed. And Rudans delighted in attaching big wooden penises to many of his sculptures.
Wesley Fawcett Creigh is a multi-disciplinary artist based out of the land currently known as Tucson, Arizona. In 2008 she completed her Bachelor’s Degree at Prescott College in the self-designed major of Public Art with an Emphasis on Social Impact. Employing animation and multimedia installation for her creative projects, she explores modes of visual storytelling using a collaborative approach. Her 15 years of experience in various construction trades inform her artistic practice and the materials and methods she employs. She has been awarded grants and residencies from organizations such as the Arts Foundation for Tucson and Southern Arizona, The Puffin Foundation, Arizona Commission on the Arts, Springboard for the Arts, Franconia Sculpture Park, and Santa Fe Art Institute.