MIT List Visual Arts Center announces Cheyney Thompson and Akram Zaatari. Tomorrow Everything Will Be Alright

MIT List Visual Arts Center presents Cheyney Thompson and Akram Zaatari. Tomorrow Everything Will Be Alright on February 10–April 8, 2012.

Cheyney Thompson (b. 1975, Baton Rouge, LA) has made the technology, production, and distribution of painting the subject of his work for over a decade. Thompson employs rational structures, technological processes, and generative devices as part of “thinking through problems that organize themselves around the terms of painting.” With such a rigorous approach to the medium, Thompson produces work that addresses varieties of abstraction, including pictorial, economic, and technological.

The first US museum survey of the artist’s work, the exhibition includes Thompson’s Chronochromes (2009–2011), which are composed using the color system devised by Albert H. Munsell in the early 1900s. Thompson grafts this system onto a calendar: each day is assigned a complementary hue pair, with every hour changing the value, and every month changing the saturation, of each brushstroke. Thompson’s Chromachromes (2009), depict motifs drawn from a scan of the underlying canvas, merging digital reproduction with the materiality of painting. Thompson’s use of a typology of canvas formats—including the Renaissance tondo—continues his engagement with the history of painting, from still life to the chromatic variation on a single motif. The artist’s interest in the circulation of painting, and the artwork as commodity, is evident in works that comment on the historical relations—artist and market, labor and value—of artistic production, and the distribution of commodities and information. Other works reframe or reiterate motifs from previous paintings, reflecting his interest in the conceptual and material conditions of image production. Recent pedestal sculptures turn sculptural volumes into surfaces. Evading the convention of presenting artworks, these sculptures self-reflexively address their function by presenting information and supplemental materials related to the exhibition.

A monograph on the artist will be published by Walther König featuring essays by Yve-Alain Bois, Ann Lauterbach, Simon Baier, and MIT List Visual Arts Center curator João Ribas.

Akram Zaatari (b. 1966, Saida, Lebanon) explores the role of images, memory, and desire in situations of war. Along with the events of the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990) and the history of conflict and resistance in the region, Zaatari’s work also focuses on representations of sexuality and intimacy.

In Tomorrow Everything Will be Alright (2010), two men separated for ten years express their desire to meet again. A story of longing and reunion, it revisits the legend of Jules Verne’s “green ray,” a flash of light after sunset or before sunrise that is thought to be a sign of fortune and love for those who see it. Nature Morte (2008) depicts two men in a darkened room as one assembles an explosive device. Red Chewing Gum (2000) takes the form of a “video-letter,” in which a narrator revisits an incident with a young gum seller that occurred years earlier on Hamra Street, a commercial and tourist center of Beirut.

Additional works screened explore the mediating role of images and text in personal, archival, and historical narratives. In This House (2005) focuses on a letter written, and then buried in a mortar shell, by a Lebanese resistance fighter. This Day (2003) explores the production and circulation of images across the Middle East. All is Well on the Border (1997) presents three testimonies reflecting the experiences of prisoners held in detention centers during the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon.

Cheyney Thompson and Akram Zaatari: Tomorrow Everything Will Be Alright are organized by João Ribas, curator, MIT List Visual Arts Center.

Funding for these exhibitions has been provided by Ghassan and Manal Saab, The Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the Council for the Arts at MIT. Media sponsor: the Phoenix Media Communications Group. Major support provided by MIT and the Office of the Associate Provost at MIT. Special thanks to the MIT List Visual Arts Advisory Committee and the Friends of MIT List.

MIT List Visual Arts Center
20 Ames Street, Bldg. E15

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