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c u e a r t f o u n d at i o n

October 21 - November 27, 2004 Curated by Paul Auster

JOSH DORMAN


We are honored and grateful to present this exhibition of New York painter Josh Dorman, generously curated by novelist Paul Auster. Mr. Auster’s appreciation of Dorman’s work demonstrates how the Fo u n d at i o n ’s eclectic and discretionary process reveals, naturally but quite unpredictably, each curator’s own pluralist views. We appreciate that artists often work tirelessly without thought or concern for exhibition. CUE is pleased to recognize such commitment by affording this opportunity, thus celebrating the efforts of artists such as Josh Dorman.


c u r at or’s s t at e m e n t

a r t i s t ’ s s tat e m e n t

Four years ago, artist Josh Dorman walked into a used bookstore in Saratoga

I am not a landscape painter. My goal is not to depict the way light plays on

Springs and bought several topographical maps. It made perfect sense that he

treetops, but I do want to get inside to see the rings of the trees, explore the

should have been attracted to these century-old projections of distant and

structure of the roots and branches, understand the bark. Lately, I’ve been

unknown places. Dorman’s recent work had been largely devoted to the rendering

using maps to find my way. I was seduced by these obsolete weathered pages-

of imaginary landscapes, little dream worlds that combined representation and

--their elegant lines revealing eons of geological shift and erosion---all

abstraction, the recognizable and almost recognizable in canvasses of exquisite

translated by human mind and hand. The risk I was taking and the implied

refinement and beauty. Call them portraits of an inner homeland, a topos of the

violation inherent in putting my first marks on the antique paper was bracing. It

spirit. Now, confronted with these maps of real places, a new idea gradually caught

brought drawing back into my paintings, erased the horizon line, and provided

hold of him. It took two full years before the impulse ripened into action—and then

me with a ground on which to excavate and impose images. As if I am walking

he took the plunge.

through nature with a magnifying glass and telescope, I find cells, mushrooms,

Working with a pen and colored ink, Dorman began inscribing his marks

thunderheads, pebbles, cliffs, continents

on the maps themselves, initiating an intense and passionate dialogue between the

I tilt these flattened lands into the frontal plane and then I seek routes

printed material and his own imagination. Inspired by the swirls and sinuous lines

and valleys back into space. I’m hoping for vertigo. But there is no one way to

of valleys, by the oddly contorted shapes of mountains and rivers, even by the

lose my balance. I follow a river with ink. I clog a harbor with oil paint. The name

words denoting bays and estuaries and towns, Dorman let his hand go wherever it

of a town or mountain might require something more literal---Rabbit Hills,

wanted to go, responding to these flattened-out ideograms by digging deep into

Burning Spring. After the Fall of 2001, I found I needed to erect buildings out of

his own unconscious. No plan, no agenda, no constraint. If there is a formal method

the grid work of the maps. I could no longer avoid the human presence in my

underlying Dorman’s art, it would be this: You find it in the act of doing it, and each

work or continue to invent a pastoral universe.

time you do it, you discover something you hadn’t known before. The map pieces are tantalizing, elusive works. Though small in scale, they

When I was eight years old, I’d lie on my stomach on my bedroom floor and draw with colored pencils in ring-bound sketchbooks. These drawings

are difficult to describe, almost impossible to pin down in words, and yet they hold

(now yellow with age) are full of monsters, winged beings, organic machines

our attention in the same way that stories do. So much is going on in them that we

with gears and tendrils and bolts of electric current. Drawing on these old

feel compelled to look for a narrative, as if by “reading” the images before us we

topographic maps with their sepia mazes returned these lost shapes and

could finally grasp them in all their complexity. But the story I will read in one of

memories to me and provided me with a new framework for painting, a way to

these pictures is not the same story you will read. More than anything else, that

navigate space.

singularity of response attests to the charm and power of these works. On the one hand, they are exuberant, almost child-like in their energy. On the other hand, the dominant feeling they provoke in us is one of reflection, of meditation. There is no solution to the mystery. As Dorman put it in a recent letter to me: “Ultimately, I paint to find out why I have to paint…in order to see things that wouldn’t exist if I didn’t make them. But I feel satisfaction only when I am genuinely surprised by what happens. As Braque once said: ‘There is only one thing in art of any value— that which cannot be explained.’”

Paul Auster


NEAR THE VILLA OF THE MYSTERIES, 2004 Ink, oil, on antique maps on panel, 32” x 36”

THE FUNNIES, 2003 Ink on antique maps on panel, 34” x 42”


NIGHT FISHING, FOR NELLY, 2004 Ink, acrylic, on antique maps on panel, 50” x 48”

PLYMO, 2003 Ink on antique map on panel, 16” x 18”


AT THE END OF THE DAY, 2004 Acrylic, oil, maps on can vas, 65” x 130”

E Q UATOR, 2003 Ink on antique maps on panel, 36” x 32”


FLEDGLING LAMENT, 2003 Ink on antique ledger pages on panel, 34” x 42”

LITTLE APOCALYPSE, 2003 Ink on antique map on can vas, 18” x 14”


AND LAKE EUNICE, 2004 Ink with maps on 6th grade science drawings by Stanley Dorman (circa 1955), 14” x 16”

THE GANG, 2003 Ink on antique map on can vas, 14” x 18”


P I LG R I M AGE, 2004 Acrylic on panel, 14” x 18”

A GREAT EGG, 2004 Ink, oil, antique map on can vas, 38” x 34”


artist’s biography Josh Dorman was born in Baltimore in 1966. He graduated Skidmore College in 1988, then received his MFA from Queens College in 1992. Dorman’s work has been exhibited in solo shows at galleries including 55 Mercer in New York City and Galerie Francoise in Baltimore, and in various group shows, most recently at The Drawing Center and The National Academy Museum. His drawings and paintings have been reviewed in Modern Painters, Art in America, and The New Republic. He works in a studio in Long Island City, and has been granted residencies at Yaddo and the Millay Colony. He has taught in and around New York, including Skidmore College, City University and Rider University. He lives in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn.

c u r at o r ’ s b i o g r a p h y Paul Auster’s two most recent novels are The Book of Illusions (2002) and

Oracle Night (2003). His Collected Poems were published earlier this year. He lives in Brooklyn.


c u e a r t f o u n d a t i o n m i s s i o n s tat e m e n t

CUE Art Foundation, a non-profit organization, provides educational programs

B OAR D O F D I R E CT O R S

for young artists and aspiring art professionals in New York and from around

Gregory Amenoff

the country. These programs draw on the unique community of artists, critics,

Thomas G. Devine

and educators brought together by the Foundation’s season of exhibitions,

Thomas K. Y. Hsu

public lectures, and its in-gallery studio program. Gallery internships and

Brian D. Starer

stipends afford the next generation of art pro fe ssionals intimate, working knowledge of the art-making and exhibition processes. CUE’s 2000 sq. ft.

A DV I S O R Y C O U N C I L

gallery and offices, located in New York’s Chelsea gallery district, serves as the

Gregory Amenoff

base for the various educational programs conducted by CUE. The Foundation’s exhibition season gives unknown or under-recog-

Vicky A. Clark William Corbett

nized artists professional exposure comparable to that offered by neighboring

Meg Cranston

commercial galleries, without the usual financial restraints. CUE does not

James Drake

promote a particular school of artistic practice or regional bias; we only require

Bruce Ferguson

that exhibiting artists must either not ha ve had a solo exhibition in a commer-

Sanford Hirsch

cial venue, or have received minimal recent public exposure.

Dana Hoey

CUE’s Advisory Council, an honorary group of artists and leading figures from the arts education, applied arts, art history, and literary communi-

G A L L E RY D I RE C TO R

ties, has the responsibility of selecting exhibition curators. The curators, in turn,

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nominate artists to exhibit at CUE, and continue to play a role throughout the exhibition process, helping the artists catalogue their work for exhibition. Both

G A L L E R Y A S S I S TA N T

the Advisory Council and the exhibition curators actively participate in the

Beatrice Wolert-Weese

public lectures and educational programs.

A L L A R T WO R K © J O S H D O R M A N C ATA LO G D E S I G N : E L I Z A B E T H E L L I S

Profile for CUE Art Foundation

Josh Dorman: Curated by Paul Auster  

Catalogue accompanying October 21st – November 27th, 2004 exhibition

Josh Dorman: Curated by Paul Auster  

Catalogue accompanying October 21st – November 27th, 2004 exhibition

Profile for cueart
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