Simon Patterson

It was a strangely warm November day today, but I ain’t complaining!  Especially since I decided to take a trip to Chelsea where most of the contemporary art galleries are located.  That place is much colder than any other part of Manhattan – I recall two years ago when I first moved here and was job hunting.  I was dropping off my resume at a Chelsea gallery in the dead of winter and after walking a block or so I remember for the first time not being able to feel my face, and I wondered how I’d look like with frost bitten cheeks.

Simon Patterson: Anthology at Benrimon Contemporary

I went to see Simon Patterson‘s exhibit at Benrimon Contemporary.  When I walked through the door I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted – it’s apparently ultra cool for gallery workers to ignore those who visit the gallery.  (Too bad at my job we’re the opposite – I want to be a stuck up gallerist!).  He apologized for the mess as they were getting ready for the Miami fairs (despite my former vile boss, I do miss those days working at art fairs).

I was looking forward to viewing his most famous work, The Great Bear, and it did not disappoint. Patterson uses the mundane London tube map – replacing the stops with the names of planets, musicians, explorers, futbol players, saints and philosophers, thereby transforming the all familiar map into something more universal than the city itself.  According the the Tate‘s website, he says that he likes” disrupting something people take as read.”  The street artist in me would love to replace copies of the actual maps in the tube stations with this piece.  In fact, I wonder if Patterson thought of doing that?  I particularly like the Key to Symbols section, specifically how Benny Hill is limited to just Monday thru Fridays until 9pm (see below).  (In contrast to here in the US where all British reference includes Benny Hill not to mention PBS’s lineup consists of Benny Hill reruns and nothing else.  Yes, a bit far fetched but any excuse to include that Benny Hill clip!).

I got a kick out of Patterson’s Billy the Kid piece (see below) and was intrigued by his new series of works, Cousteau in the Underworld (bragging rights:  I met and worked with his granddaughter, Celine Cousteau, at my gallery.  She even sent me a photo of her on one of her excursions – scuba diving along the coast of Peru, booyah!).  Again, he combines two separate entities – taking 18th – 19th century Admiralty charts and inserting facts of the great ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau (see below below).

The work directly above includes the following Cousteau quotes:

“A lot of people attack the sea, I make love to it.”

“When one man, for whatever reason, has the opportunity to lead an extraordinary life, he has no right to keep it to himself.”

Benny Hill


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