Interstellar Overdrive

April 3 - May 10, 2014


Salomon Contemporary is pleased to present Interstellar Overdrive, a solo exhibition of egg tempera paintings by John Gordon Gauld.

In July 1956, amidst a dense fog off the northeast coast of the United States, the SS Andrea Doria was struck by the MS Stockholm and sunk into the depths of the Atlantic. In Gauld's new zodiac series, inspired from recovered remnants of the ship's famed Zodiac Suite, he reexamines the historical still life and expands his focus on allegorical history—of the natural, philosophical, and spiritual.

With titles taken from early Babylonian terms for the constellations, Gauld's compositions depict assemblages that seem unintentional at first, but with sustained attention, reveal a myriad of calculated, symbolic associations. In addition to citing the first organized system of astrology in Babylon, hints of Ancient China's complex astrological structure and Hippocrates' four temperaments—sanguine, choleric, melancholic, and phlegmatic—appear in each work. Gauld's imagery spans a timeline of over four thousand years—reflecting the ever-changing perceptions of the celestial unknown.

Gauld's exploration continues as he draws from both Gio Ponti and Piero Fornasetti's mid-century depiction of the zodiac aboard the SS Andrea Doria and a psychedelic 1966 Pink Floyd song, Interstellar Overdrive. The title of the show is a fitting shorthand to capture our moment—caught as we are between an era obsessed with moon landings and mysticism, and an imminent future in which space travel, even the colonization of Mars, is seen as just the latest commercial frontier.

Lastly, Gauld challenges the present-day interpretations of personality traits—a central part of astrological beliefs that have heavily influenced many aspects of social and cultural history. The Fertile Goddess explores an alternative rendition of Virgo where the sign represents not sexual purity but a more robust and timeless sensuality.

Perhaps the quietest composition in the series, Seven Sisters rescues Taurus from its stubborn stereotype; a crumpled Red Bull soda can completes a tableau of exceptional subtlety and restrained color palette. For all of his works, the artist employs rare, historic pigments—cinnabar, lapis lazuli, malachite, and madder root, to name a few. In combination, these pigments produce a unique visual experience that beckons time-honored, firsthand observation and stands in opposition to the proliferation of digital media.

John Gordon Gauld lives and works in New York. He has a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and is the recipient of grants from The Pollock-Krasner Foundation, The Joan Mitchell Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, The Foundation for Contemporary Art, La Napoule Art Foundation, and The Vermont Studio Center. Gauld's work has been included in many group exhibitions and featured in many of Bergdorf Goodman's window displays and in publications such as The New Yorker, ARTnews, Vogue, Huffington Post, Scene Magazine, and Refinery 29. He has worked with Stella McCartney and Grey Area on numerous projects. This is Gauld's third solo exhibition with Salomon Contemporary.