“The world turns. Day deepens to night.
People multiply. Flora and fauna surrender land and a place in the sun.
The artist, the scientist and all persons of goodwill are called on to act as protagonist and protector of the natural world.
This is NATURE CULT.”
Donald Moffett, April 2021
Whitestone Gallery Hong Kong is pleased to present NATURE CULT, the first solo exhibition of American artist Donald Moffett in Asia. Coinciding with Art Central Hong Kong, Moffett’s exhibition highlights his recent works characterized by a provocative minimalism, glossy surfaces and uncanny forms exploring subjects on nature, the body and desire. The show at the gallery in H Queen’s will also feature works from across Moffett’s oeuvre, including He Kills Me, 1987; an iconic work by the artist made in New York at the height of the AIDS epidemic.
In the past two decades Moffett has developed a unique application of paint in which orifices and bristled surfaces invite implications of the human body, botanical and molecular forms, as well as bullet holes. The emergence of this extruded series marked a major shift in Moffett’s work and challenged traditional notions of painting. In Moffett’s recent NATURE CULT series, from which the show borrows its title, the experimentation of paint continues further and addresses the artist’s ongoing investigation into nature and organic forms. His profound preoccupation with nature is rooted in his training in biology and his time spent on a ranch during his childhood. These large, abstract, resin paintings begin as digital renderings of biological shapes which are subsequently milled from wood. The surface of each painting is then coated in multiple layers of resin and paint to achieve its final glossy or matte finish. The resin surfaces interact with the light and environment to reveal shifting colours and an alluring depth of colours. The simultaneously organic and mysterious emblems as imagined in the NATURE CULT series continue to communicate Moffett’s concern towards natural and destructive forces.
While the work may not show direct linkages to global warming and climate change, the titles provide important meanings. “Lot 020619 (nature cult, fertile blue)”, 2019, with shapes that evoke images of cells and spores creates the natural and biological associations, and the use of ‘fertile’ suggests the reproduction of ocean species. “Lot 020421 (the ripe blue), 2021, which resembles a fruit shape, and titled ‘ripe’ reflects the contemporary way our food is processed and engineered. From extruded to understated, minimal to abstract, provocative to reticent, Moffett never ceases to expand the scope of his painting vocabulary, landscapes and context.
The second room in the gallery will present his “Fleish” (Flesh) series, where the artist manifests the act of violence and intimacy through raw linen drenched with rabbit skin glue as a metaphor for the body and abstract representations of epidermal surfaces. While his extruded paintings are full and abundant, the “Fleish” canvases are naked and starved, as seen in the works “Lot 032107/20 (spill physics)”, 2007/2020, and “Lot 090307/20 (O, drop)” 2007/2020.
The exhibition at Whitestone Gallery also includes some of Moffett’s early works from the 1980s and 1990’s, including He Kills Me (1987) made during the time when the artist was heavily involved in the ACT UP activist movement against the Reagan administration’s ineffective and homophobic response to the AIDS epidemic.
Born in San Antonio, Texas in 1955, Donald Moffett currently lives and works in New York, NY and Barksdale, Texas. He has been the subject of important exhibitions at Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York City and Aspen, Anthony Meier Fine Arts in San Francisco, Texas Gallery, Texas, among many others. Moffett’s work is included in major museum collections such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York and the Museum of Modern art, New York.
As part of the exhibition, a public program organized with Hong Kong-based curator Inti Guerrero will introduce and explore the themes and languages held within Moffett’s works. More information coming soon on social media.