MOMA Tbilisi, "Artspeak" Exhibiton

Tbilisi, Georgia June 2017




JUNE 1, 2017, TBLISI MOMA Tbilisiis pleased to present "ARTSPEAK”, an exhibition of selected mixed media artworks and videos by New York artist Bill Claps.  The show encompasses works from three of the artist’s series, “Artspeak”, “It’s All Derivative”, and “Natural Abstractions”, all of which utilize a unique gold foil technique developed by the artist.  Claps’ work reflects an ongoing dialogue with art history, commenting on the imagery, motifs and language used by artists and art critics.  His work interrogates the use of the art world’s coded language, cracking the code while cleverly recoding and recontextualizing. 

Claps’ “Artspeak” series investigates the use of contemporary art journalism and critique, analyzing the reaction of ordinary people when confronted with this language, revealing how they respond to contemporary art.  The video installation from this series, “Enduring Conundrum”, captures individuals from all walks of life repeating phrases taken from press releases of art exhibitions, while gilded mixed media works produced by the artist literally translate these phrases into Morse code, a metaphor for the exclusive language of the art world.

In the “It’s All Derivative” series Claps comments on the practice of appropriation and veneration in the art world by combining borrowed imagery from the past with the visual language of Morse code. The images in the show playfully and subversively appropriate the appropriators, questioning the notion of originality in art, and arena in which, according to the artist “It’s all derivative on one level or another.”  Iconic images become gilded icons, contemporary art objects presented like medieval tapestries and ancient scrolls, with rough edges, beautifully crafted and textured.

“Natural Abstractions” is Claps’ homage to the 18thC Japanese master printmakers whose graphic style greatly influenced the European Impressionists. In this series he creates contemporary interpretations of nature motifs used and repeated by many generations of artists, using photos he takes in locations out of context from the original.  “Eachwork is executed in a positive and negative, to articulate the duality that is the basis of much of oriental culture" says Claps.  In these recent works you can see Claps’ fascination with the natural world, captured up close and translated into autonomous compositional elements, which at times recall geometric abstraction, oriental calligraphy, and cellular processes.  

Bill Claps lives and works in New York City. He is a visual artist, filmmaker and writer. Born in Glen Ridge, NJ, he earned a Bachelor of Arts at Harvard University, where he studied painting and art history. He studied painting and drawing at the Art Students League in NY and in Florence, Italy. His paintings and drawings have been presented in galleries and institutions throughout the US, Europe, and the Middle East. In the United States: Salomon Arts Gallery (New York), Priska C. Juschka Fine Art (New York), Henry Gregg Gallery (New York), Rush Arts Gallery (NY), Aspen Fine Arts Gallery (Aspen, Colorado), Bendheim Gallery (Greenwich, Ct), Kismet Gallery (Westport, Ct), Exhibit Gallery (Tulsa, OK), and International Club (Wellington, FL). In Europe: la Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica di Palazzo Corsini in Rome; Artgeneve, Geneva; Art Monaco; Evartspace, Geneva; Spazio Garibaldi 77, Milano,Gallery@1, Gstaad, Switzerland, Galerie 55 Bellechasse, Paris, R Gallery, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Claps’ works are in private collections and foundations in the United States and Europe. He writes for and Exibart Magazine.