Adam McEwen’s (b. 1965) work mixes together the celebratory and the funereal, the humorous and the morbid. After writing obituaries for the Daily Telegraph in London, he began making paintings featuring obituaries of living subjects such as Bill Clinton and Jeff Koons, highlighting the blurred line between history and fiction. He often performs strategic interventions in the familiar, exploiting the presumptions embedded in recognizable objects to create different modes of awareness. Like his obituaries, text-message pieces, and graphite sculptures, this new untitled work on paper mines the possibilities found in the world of things that commonly go unnoticed. His painted interpretation of a “Sorry, we’re closed” placard is an extension of his parodic variations of shop window signs, which he began making after relocating to New York in 2000. By subtly altering the text found in the recognizable graphics of such signage, McEwen creates a perceptual instability or disruption. Here, he uses spray paint—a tool frequently used for vandalism—to obliterate the meaning of the message, leaving the viewer in a communicative dead zone with only a mere apology for undetermined actions.
Photo: Floto + Warner