Mr. Nobody At All
School of Visual Arts (SVA) presents “Mr. Nobody At All,” an exhibition of work from the MFA Illustration as Visual Essay Class of 2014. The work was created for the Book Seminar course and is based on the short story “Mr. Nobody At All,” by Ann Beattie. The exhibition will be on view February 8 - March 2 at the SVA Gallery, 209 East 23 Street, New York City.
Exhibition curator Viktor Koen says, “This time, our short story was not a linear piece of storytelling but a sizable collection of obituaries (34 to be precise) from the funeral of Geoffrey Chestnut, an accomplished painter who (unbeknownst to most) reinvented himself into an underground cartoonist on the West coast after being sick of dealing with critics, family members, fellow artists and charity cases. His new subject matter was raunchy and he associated with graffiti kids and characters of a very different pedigree than the ones in New York. By listening to people who knew him (or thought they did), we peel his life layer by layer to try to compose a puzzle of pieces that don’t fit, as people’s last words to him and about him, in memorial services on both coasts, speak more about themselves instead of Geoffrey and progressively confuse instead of enlighten us about him. The mismatching pieces become excuses for equally puzzling images trying to tell a story and piece together the profile of a mysterious man as an artistic paradox.
“Opinions on Geoffrey vary widely from love to hate and from deep appreciation to competitive scorn. Visually, that meant only one thing: multiple angles of approaching the story, not only stylistically but structurally and conceptually, too. These series of images reflect the schizophrenic views about an enigmatic artist but also the meta-physicality of the dead and absurdity of such a funeral. Other than illustrating the masterful weaving of a profile through 34 testimonies, this exercise was about making a series of pictures about an artist. Art for artists or about artists is challenging, as the text complicates more than it resolves through descriptions of Geoffrey’s paintings or his opinions about the industry and its critics. The exhibition includes works that tell the story in direct, timeline-oriented ways and ones that function though allegory and use the subjects as an excuse to explore deeper personal meanings. Also, mythological style and digital animatics are explored as ways to tell this story that is no story after all. Just an opportunity for an industry, our industry of telling stories through pictures, to express and to a certain degree examine or, better, re-examine itself.”
The MFA in Illustration as Visual Essay is designed to maximize students’ opportunities as figurative artists, from the conventional gallery wall to the full range of 21st-century media. The program fuses the development of creative thinking with technical and communication skills. Additional focus is placed on best practices in navigating the visual art marketplace while empowering students to choose making art as a way of life.