The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University
September 23, 2013
The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University present Focus: Beverly Fishman, opening on Friday, September 27th. The celebrated Detroit artist will be speaking about her work starting at 6 P.M., and a reception will be held immediately following at 7 P.M. The artist talk and reception are free and open to the public, and the exhibition runs through January 5th, 2014.
Beverly Fishman is the Artist-in-Residence and Head of Painting at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Fishman has exhibited extensively throughout the United States, and has developed a singular and iconic form of painterly practice. Her large scale images, most often created through a time consuming process of applying brightly colored enamel to stainless steel planes, are dizzying in their final effect and deeply conceptual in their underpinnings. These seeming abstractions are actually deeply human as the artist transcribes medical records that encode physical body functions. EKG’s, EEG’s and neuron spike readouts are all featured prominently in the visual form. In many of the works, bar code signs and the ghostly shapes of pills emerge slowly from the heavily patterned surfaces into the viewer’s visual field.
In the history of twentieth century art, large scale abstract painting is often thought to be organic and psychological, presenting both the marks of active painting and giving some suggested access into an artist’s mental state. In her work, Fishman upends that tradition, appropriating medical representations of the human interior to suggest that there is no unmediated representation of mental states as well as to make the connection between abstraction and the body concrete. At the same time, Fishman offers a critical perspective on our current culture’s obsession with the medical, stringing together masses of scan readouts to point to the way humans in the 21st century often turn first to medicine and even mood-altering medication as a means of seeking a happier existence. Both critical and celebratory, Fishman’s technologically-based art is contemporary in its ideas, forms, and approach. As the use of the polished steel often offers viewers a reflected glimpse of themselves, she reminds us that we are all implicated in this 21st century approach to thinking about the human body.