Pedro Barbeito - united states show - The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum_a

Pedro Barbeito

Articles and Reviews:
CULTURE CATCH | June 20, 2012

The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
258 Main Street, Ridgefield, CT 06877
Tel 203.438.4519, Fax 203.438.0198,

Pop Violence
Opening Reception Sunday, July 15, 2012 from 3-5 pm
3 pm The Splits, a performance by Jane Benson in the Leir Atrium
Download: Pop Violence Brochure (PDF)

The Aldrich will host an opening reception to introduce united states, a semester of solo exhibitions and artist’s projects that approach both the nature of the United States as a country and “united states” as the notion of uniting separate forms, manners, or conditions of being. Subjects that are touched upon include history (and forgetfulness), war, political division, race, the economy, immigration, competition vs. cooperation, mythology, group psychology, the social contract, and consumerism. No one series of exhibitions can summarize the complexity of the meanings inherent in the concept of “united states,” however the goal is not to provide closure, but rather to echo the belief that disparate entities united to form a whole are hopefully greater (and more profound) than the simple sum of parts.

united states includes solo exhibitions by Pedro Barbeito, Jonathan Brand, Brody Condon, Brad Kahlhamer, Brian Knep, Erik Parker, and Hank Willis Thomas, as well as singular projects by Jane Benson, Alison Crocetta, Celeste Fichter, Erika Harrsch, Sui Jianguo, Nina Katchadourian, Matthew Northridge, Risa Puno, John Stoney, Frances Trombly, Rosemary Williams, and Jenny Yurshansky.

Spanish-born, New York-based artist Pedro Barbeito’s exhibition at The Aldrich presents a series of work ranging from 2005 to the present. The paintings in Pop Violence are based on images of war drawn from American entertainment and news media. For Barbeito, these works address the formative role of violence in contemporary life, from a political ethos driven by “terror” and deception to the aesthetics of visual assault prevailing in popular culture. Drawing upon the anxieties of an age when we are afforded, primarily through the Internet, unprecedented visual access to the violence of war and political strife (the conflict in Iraq and the Abu Ghraib images of torture, for example), these canvases materialize through painting the ubiquitous command found in most NYC transportation hubs: “If you see something, say something.”

“Painting, since the beginning of history, has been the representation of the world through pictures,” explains Barbeito, “and as such, my paintings represent our current world, exploring the relationship between digital imaging, culture at large, and the history of painting.” His images are particularly informed by the artist’s interest in the traditions of popularized depictions of violence, from early superhero comics (Fighting Yank/Captain America/Battle Brady), to video game imagery (Gears of War/Halo 3), to the portrayal of violence and jingoism in movies and on television. These are all powerful popular forms that testify to the workings of violence in America, yet do so in often beautiful and visually inventive ways. The layering of images, paired with the physicality of the paint application on the canvas, typifies the presentation of violence in our contemporary era, speaking to the cacophony of voices in communications media overloaded by often-contradictory information: flag waving, horror, and glamour.

united states is sponsored by The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum with additional support provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, Art Works and Connecticut Office of the Arts. In-kind support provided by Ancona’s Wines and Liquors and PALM, Belgium’s #1 Ale. Special thanks to our media sponsors Morris Media Group, publishers of Ridgefield Magazine and WSHU Public Radio.


Pedro Barbeito

The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield CT

Photo: © Peter Arron/Esto