Bockhaus Anti-Christmas Special: Ryan Bock
December 1, 2021- December 23, 2021
197 E 4th Street
Ki Smith Gallery proudly presents Bockhaus’s Anti-Christmas Special, the gallery’s fourth solo exhibition of work by Ryan Bock. Consisting of a series of works on paper created during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, this body materializes anti-establishment philosophy in black, white, and gray.
In a country where the impending winter “holiday season” is synonymous with Santa Claus, Christmas carols, and consumerism, Bock encourages the viewer to challenge the status quo. This exhibition is an anti-celebration. It is an astute observation and a protest to the White Christian hegemony that has molded the United States since its inception. Through his artwork, Bock reconciles his complicated relationship as an observer. His artwork is a vehicle of accountability, a responsive visual diary, and an appeal to alternate pathways of truth-seeking.
Bock draws from his lived experience, transmuting personal and collective trauma using gouache and acrylic. His research-based approach references news media, pop culture, and conspiracy theories. The viewer is urged to think critically about their role in sourcing facts and parsing truth.
The humor of Anti-Christmas Special is dark and its execution is exact. Menacing figures are rendered in neo-Cubist forms. Recurring characters such as The Silver Fox take centerstage, emerging from an evening news nightmare. Corrupt political figures are portrayed alongside their animalistic counterparts, connecting the continued repercussions of imperialism, racism, and classism that ripple and rumble through the current United States political landscape.
Works such as Christ Handgun (2020) relay a failed separation of church and state in the US. In a political critique that borders prediction, Bock references the cyclical history of human conflict. Navigating the Halls of History (2020) mimics a scene allusive to the 2021 attack on the Capitol Building and to a pattern of storming parliament buildings that extends to antiquity.
The Bock Brick Benefit undergoes a rebirth from 2018 to compose an interactive portion of this exhibition. Lining the base of the gallery walls, the installation is intended for eventual deconstruction. Visitors are encouraged to purchase a hand-painted brick as an anti-Christmas Bockhaus gift. A nod to revolution and communal effort, the wall is built and dismantled “brick-by-brick.” A percentage of proceeds will support the American Civil Liberties Union, a non-partisan non-profit organization, which has defended and preserved the individual rights and liberties of US residents for the last 100 years.
- Sadaf Padder