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BeveRly Fishman june 11 – july 17, 2010



front and back Cover detail: dark kandyland, 2010 right: dark kandyland, 2010 84" x 30" Acrylic and enamel on polished stainless steel far right: white kandyland, 2009 84" x 30" Acrylic and enamel on polished stainless steel

BeveRly Fishman june 11 – july 17, 2010

GalleRy DirectoRs David Eichholtz & Richard Barger

130 Lincoln Avenue, Suite D, Santa Fe, NM 87501 | p (505) 983-9555 | f (505) 983-1284 |

BeveRly Fishman: 2

F   utuRe NatuRal David Richard Contemporary is pleased to present FUTURE NATURAL, a solo exhibition of new work by Beverly Fishman. We are also pleased to present this full-color catalog with an essay written by Kathy Battista that places Fishman’s work in the context of feminist and postminimalist artists. Fishman’s artistic practice comments on how medical data and different forms of scientific representation have increasingly become a part of our identities. They have the ability to define and confine us in many ways, such as manicdepressive, menopausal, obese, diabetic or hypertensive. Medical data is not only used to describe our ills, or lack of wills, but also to prescribe and perpetuate our growing reliance on medications to make us look, feel and perform better. However, the question is better than what and decided by whom? FUTURE NATURAL consists of two bodies of work in which the physicality and materiality, in terms of scale and experience, are an important aspect of the exhibition. In the front gallery, the fourteen paintings consist of psychedelic optical patterns of layered medical data, silkscreened in fluorescent-colored acrylic and enamel paint onto polished stainless steel. The four larger-than-life narrow verticals are hung low to the ground allowing us to see our entire reflections like a mirror through the barrage of medical data. Do we like the reflection we see? Do we even know the person we see? The four horizontal paintings are diptychs or triptychs, approximately 56 to 74.5 inches in height and 84 inches in length, that enable the reflections of multiple viewers to be captured and comingled with the data. The six smaller pieces capture just the head of the viewer. In the gallery’s project room, Fishman has installed seventy pill-shaped wall sculptures in a dizzying display of what looks like a fist-full of pills that had been thrown into the room and stuck to the walls. These pill sculptures are made of resin and phosphorescent pigments that glow in the dark. One’s favorite crutch will be recognized and the glow in the dark feature only enhances the soothing and lulling effect.

David Eichholtz and Richard Barger

BeveRly Fishman at

D   avid Richard Contemporary by Kathy Battista You’ve got to climb Mount Everest to reach the Valley of the dolls.1 Oh is this the way they say the future’s meant to feel? Or just 20,000 people standing in a field. And I don’t quite understand just what this feeling is. But that’s okay ‘cause we’re all sorted out for E’s and wizz. And tell me when the spaceship lands ‘cause all this has just got to mean something.2 The post-war conception of the American

used feminist methodology, as witnessed in

female was largely tied to the domestic.

writers as diverse as Stuart Hall, Hal Foster

Household goods and conveniences, as ad-

and Paul Gilroy.

vertised by attractive women on television, were a sign of affluence, health and happi-

If one considers pharmaceuticals as another

ness. One’s status in society was largely tied

consumer commodity, this strikes an espe-

to what they owned, and women were the

cially poignant note. How have women been

ideal consumers. This paradigm of the per-

targeted by the advertising industry? How

fect housewife was deconstructed in feminist

many pills do we consume daily or annually?

ideology of the 1970s. Writers such as Betty

How much faith do we have in medicine and

Friedan, Germaine Greer and Kate Millett

pharmacology as panaceas for our myriad

analyzed the role of women with literature

of ills? The post-war cliché of ‘mother’s little

that became widely available and influential.

helpers’ and the iconic ‘Valley of the Dolls’

Gender, previously considered a fixed entity,

were nods to the increasing commodifica-

became subject to scrutiny that resulted in

tion of the pharmaceutical industry, and

an expanded, pluralistic view of male and

in particular its use by women. Drugs may

female. Writers on both sides of the Atlantic,

be seen as another consumer convenience,

including Parveen Adams, Judith Butler and

alongside the microwave, dishwasher or

Laura Mulvey, increasingly viewed gender as

vacuum cleaner.

a conditioned construction of one’s identity, incorporating physical, political and ideo-

The women’s movement also resulted in

logical constructs. This burgeoning interest

various effects on art practice: a rise in work

in identity paved the way for tangential dis-

related to themes such as the domestic,

ciplines—cultural studies, postmodernism,

women’s experience, and female biological

postcolonial studies, and queer theory—that

source imagery; an interest in exposing the

1. Jacqeline Susann, Valley of the Dolls, 1966. 2. Jarvis Cocker, ‘Sorted Out for E’s and wizz’ song lyrics, 1995.



inequality among gender; and perhaps most

the constellation formed by the cluster of

importantly, questions around the notion of

forms mimics the view from a microscope.

identity. How do we form or measure iden-

This internalized view of the human body

tity? To what extent is identity implicit or is

does not refer to a specific person, but a

it socialized through society? The first wave

universal human condition. Fishman used

of feminist artwork witnessed in the 1970s

Xeroxes of human cell structures, and the

US made manifest these questions. For

titles suggest scientific, coded information.

example Judy Chicago’s flower paintings

The fear that every person feels regarding

drew inspiration from the biological aspects

what lurks within our body is made manifest

of womanhood.

here in the palette of the work. Saturated hues, including red, yellow, turquoise, purple

A subsequent generation of artists, whose

and black suggesting the visceral, dominate

work consists of a combination of installa-

this period of her work. In addition, the cel-

tion, sculpture and painting, took a more

lular conditions of replication and division,

opaque approach to feminist inquiry. Mate-

echoed in the use of the Xerox as medium,

rial became secondary to concept. Beverly

suggest the possibility for both deterioration

Fishman’s work is situated within this tra-

and renewal. This binary presents a cyclical

jectory. While educated at Philadelphia and

reading of birth and death as inevitable fates

Yale, Fishman was inspired and supported by

embodied in abstract terms.

prominent artists concerned with the feminist movement including Ree Morton, Judy

Indeed the tension between representation

Pfaff, and Elizabeth Murray. Other artists

and abstraction is an important element

interested in the investigation of the human

of Fishman’s work, and is reflected in the

body including Lynda Benglis, Laurie Ander-

obvious nod to the handspun in her prac-

son, Francis Bacon and Eva Hesse, were also

tice. Each formal constituent bears witness

important references.

to its making. In this sense one sees her work

the tension betWeen RepResentation and abstRaction is an impoRtant element of Fishman’s WoRK…

alongside artists like Hesse, Ross Bleckner and Philip Taafe. Hesse’s forms, at times anthropomorphic, were post-minimal abstract shapes; yet, the presence of the artist’s hand is found throughout her oeuvre. The same can be said of Bleckner or Taafe, who relied on pattern, but whose physical implication in the work is present in the surface of the painting. Fishman’s work finds its context in

Fishman’s work has long exhibited an inter-

these contemporaries who rejected the use

est in the human body, for example, N.L.B.W.

of sterile minimalist fabrication, but took

#1–156, 1997–1998 and P.I.L.L. # 1–189, 1998.

from their predecessors the interest in the

These take the form of wall-based installa-

repetition of forms and patterns.

tions of individual elements comprised of photo-based collage, acrylic and resin on

The oscillation between abstraction and fig-

wood. The idiosyncratic shapes of each com-

uration is seen in Fishman’s current series of

ponent resemble cell-like structures while

work. Her large-scale paintings, both vertical

P.I.L.L. #1–189, 1998

and horizontal in format, have become more mechanistic in character: what appear to be dot matrixes, hard-edged stripes and waving 5

linear forms that become almost topographical in places. They find their inspiration in DNA and QR codes, as well as medical measuring devices including EKGs and EEGs. The circular forms are derived from pills, both pharmaceutical and recreational. The paintings, while done by hand, bear relationship to the computer, which is used to sample and morph patterns and scientific imagery that is sourced on the Internet. Take for example Fishman’s Dark Kandyland 2010, a large-scale acrylic and enamel painting on polished steel. Vertical in format, the painting may be considered in two distinct sections: the top half, in which circular, ovoid and other pill-shaped forms float atop a pattern composed of black dots on the unpainted polished stainless steel background. Here the pills seem to levitate and hover above the pattern. The lower segment of the painting, with a composition of horizontal and vertical lines, as well as what looks like an electrocardiograph and genetic code, contrasts

segments. Similar to horizon lines, these

with the circular forms above. One might

paintings are split into thirds or halves and

describe the painting in terms of Platonic

suggest landscapes of graphic information.

order, with the mind existing literally above

Here the pills spill into the lower section,

the bodily. The top half also represents the

while barcodes and DNA helixes compete

‘cause’ and the bottom the effect: it’s the

with stripes and patterns to delirious effects.

pills, prescribed or otherwise, that would

The artist is masterful in her ability to strike a

make the heart race or the body relax. And

delicate balance between the webs of lines,

the straight lines call to mind the medical

networks of color and various shapes and

term of ‘flatlining’ when a patient is ebbing

layers. At times the paintings resemble the

away from life. Thus, Fishman’s metonymic

innards of a computer, which represents the

painting embodies this notion of cause and

primary medium through which we view the

effect in its dichotomy.

body today, for example with EKG patterns, sound waves, and genetic codes. While Fish-

Horizontal diptych and tripartite works

man’s paintings give the impression of ‘high

such as Dividose: Flour r.b.b.y, (2009), Sys-

technology’ with an almost futuristic sheen

tem Overload (2009-2010) and Barcode.

deriving from the polished steel, upon closer

helix.eeg (2010) also divide into discrete

inspection one can see the marks of the


artist’s hand. Fishman wants the viewer to

of forms and patterns, suggest so much

see the imperfections, which may be read

movement that they take on a hallucinatory

as a reflection of the human condition. This

nature. For example the horizontal diptych

harks back to the idea of identity, with each

Untitled, (Kandyland Series), 2010 is com-

painting symbolic of a composite of individu-

prised of bright pinks, orange, citrus green

als rather than a mechanized template. How-

and magenta. These colors, which may be

ever, the idea of the construction of identity

read as reflecting the use of neon in signage,

through medical, scientific and pharmaceu-

suggest the urban condition. City living

tical terms, may be read as a continuation of

demands two different lives, one’s daytime

the feminist interest in the formation of self,

and nighttime personas, the latter of which

both in physical and psychological terms.

may require recreational drugs to sustain.

Fishman’s inteRest in pills…is linKed to…the psycholoGical and physical effects RendeRed by these small but omnipotent objects. The scale of these new paintings, which are

The use of drugs in art is not a new concept.

slightly larger than life-sized, is an important

There is an entire literature based on opiate

aspect of the work. At eighty- four inches

experiences and one need only think of Dali

high, in the vertical works—Acid Kandyland

or 1960s psychedelia to understand how

#1 and #2 (2010), White Kandyland (2009),

drugs have been used to foster the creative

and Dark Kandyland (2010)—the viewer can

impulse. In more recent years Fred Toma-

partially see her reflection in the works due

selli’s paintings contain pills and marijuana

to the highly polished stainless steel. The

leaves and Damien Hirst’s medicine cabi-

affect varies according to each work, as the

nets use pills as found objects. Tomaselli’s

denser compositions render just a shadow

layering of substances, both legal and ille-

of the viewer while looser compositions

gal, within layers of resin, uses the actual ob-

result in a sharper image. They do not serve

jects themselves to create networks. Hirst’s

as mirrors, rather like vestiges of the viewer

pharmaceuticals, while also concerned with

projected on to the painting, reflecting the

the consumer driven drug industry, retain a

nebulous identity of the pills and charts.

sterile, distant feeling. Fishman’s interest in

Thus, the artist implicates us all within her

pills, in contrast to her colleagues above, is

work, much like Op Art’s dizzying effects.

linked to how we measure identity, to the

The unsettling experience of viewing a

state of our minds and bodies, and to the

Bridget Riley or Victor Vasarely comes to

psychological and physical effects rendered

mind here.

by these small but omnipotent objects. She embraces pharmaceuticals as a form of rep-

The palette of this new body of work draws

resentation, both of the body and mind, as

largely upon day-glo and fluorescent col-

well as our urban, over programmed lives.

ors. This produces several effects. First,

Despite the promise that modern medicine

the paintings are never static. The colors,

holds, we are all still mortal beings, frustrat-

combined with the dynamic juxtaposition

ed, unable to sleep, anxious or unwell.

Another difference between Fishman and

The pill series, while sculptural, are con-

those artists referenced above is the im-

sistent with Fishman’s earlier work. They

portance of the handcraft in her work. This

employ modernist tactics in that although

is perhaps most evident in another body

the shapes of the pills are derived from the

of work presented in ‘Future Natural’. This

actual items found in the world, each pill is

series consists of smaller wall-based sculp-

individual, hand cast from a wooden mold.

tures that use phosphorescent pigment to

No two are identical as Fishman varies

make them glow in the dark. The pills ref-

them by using different colors, both on the

erenced here, as in the paintings described

surface and the phosphorescent pigment

above, are derived from actual drugs. Phar-

underneath, which makes them glow. As you

maceuticals such as Valium®, Klonopin®,

encounter the pills the viewer can see small

Haldol® and Fosamax® sit alongside vari-

inconsistencies and marks from the casting

ous incarnations of the recreational Ecstasy.

process. The artist relishes in these small

The latter has famously taken various forms,

anomalies, which subvert the mechanical

including iconic imprints such as the heart,

processes by which real pharmaceuticals

skull, smiley face, and now even Homer

are made. The pills are also modular. While

Simpson. The irony in Fishman’s work is that

one can stand alone as a sculptural work,

the pills begin to blur together. For example,

they can also be grouped in the same way

the moose imprinted on a pill for diabetes

that her earlier cellular installations or the

(Prandin®) could easily be read as an Ecsta-

latest polished steel paintings can work

sy tablet. Perhaps the icon most indicative

together in dialogue.

of this is the Superman logo—an ‘S’ in an upside down triangle—which has appeared

When seen as a holistic entity ‘Future Natu-

on both Ecstasy and Parkinson’s medication

ral’ reflects several of Fishman’s abiding

with very little difference in rendering. Here

themes. Her interest in the history of paint-

Fishman’s point is well taken—whatever

ing and sculpture as fetishized objects is

one’s poison is, medical or recreational—the

seen in the materials and palettes of the

desired effects are the same and their mar-

paintings as well as the pills. They call to

keting is frighteningly similar.

mind references as diverse as Richter’s mirror paintings and early Warhol drawings.

The pills may be read as a critique of the se-

The artist’s interest in science, which is

duction, especially of women, of advertising

always concerned with reimaging our body

in today’s culture. Here both medical and

through the development of new technol-

homemade science seduces the consumer.

ogy, as a seductive force in all our lives, re-

One takes a pill, which is in its original solid

lates to the theme of how we consume and

state. This then dissolves and becomes

are consumed by advertising. And finally,

vaporous. The latter state is reflected in the

Fishman’s early training under feminist and

glowing backgrounds. Here again Fishman

postminimalist artists is reflected in this cur-

invokes signage and the language of graphic

rent work. How is one’s identity, in particular

design in her work.

female identity, transposed and interpreted through science? And how is science in turn influencing or changing our identity? The future seems anything but natural here.


untitled (Kandyland series), 2010 56 3/4" x 84" Acrylic and enamel on polished stainless steel



detail: Acid Kandyland #2, 2010 84" x 26" Acrylic and enamel on polished stainless steel


Acid Kandyland #1, 2010

Acid Kandyland #2, 2010

84" x 26" Acrylic and enamel on polished stainless steel

84" x 26" Acrylic and enamel on polished stainless steel


System overload, 2010 58 3/4" x 84" Acrylic and enamel on polished stainless steel


13 13

Dividose: flour r.b.b.y, 2009 56 3/4" x 84" Acrylic and enamel on polished stainless steel


Barcode.helix.eeg, 2010 74 1/2" x 84" Acrylic and enamel on polished stainless steel



Untitled (Kandyland Series 2), 2010

Untitled (Kandyland Series 3), 2010

26" x 18" Acrylic and enamel on polished stainless steel

26" x 18" Acrylic and enamel on polished stainless steel

Untitled (Kandyland Series 1), 2009 and

Untitled (Kandyland Series Pink), 2009 and

Untitled (Kandyland Series Green), 2009

Untitled (Kandyland Series 1), 2010

26" x 18" Acrylic and enamel on polished stainless steel

26" x 18" Acrylic and enamel on polished stainless steel


Untitled (Pharmako Series 7, 32, 14, 17, 19, 10, 1, 15, 30, 24, 23, 21, 25, 28, 3, 8, 4, 26), 2009-2010 (5" x 10" x 1.5" to 9" x 9" x 3") Hand poured resin and phosphorescent pigment, Various sizes, Installation view




Untitled (Pharmako Series 9), 2010 and

Untitled (Pharmako Series 13), 2009 and

Untitled (Pharmako Series 2), 2010

Untitled (Pharmako Series 12), 2010

Hand poured resin and phosphorescent pigment,

Hand poured resin and phosphorescent pigment,

In the light

In the light

Untitled (Pharmako Series 9), 2010 and

Untitled (Pharmako Series 13), 2009 and

Untitled (Pharmako Series 2), 2010

Untitled (Pharmako Series 12), 2010

Hand poured resin and phosphorescent pigment,

Hand poured resin and phosphorescent pigment,

Glowing in the dark

Glowing in the dark



Untitled (Pharmako Series 29), 2010 and

Untitled (Pharmako Series 5), 2010 and

Untitled (Pharmako Series 20), 2010

Untitled (Pharmako Series 6), 2010

Hand poured resin and phosphorescent pigment,

Hand poured resin and phosphorescent pigment,

Glowing in the dark

Glowing in the dark

Untitled (Pharmako Series 29), 2010 and

Untitled (Pharmako Series 5), 2010 and

Untitled (Pharmako Series 20), 2010

Untitled (Pharmako Series 6), 2010

Hand poured resin and phosphorescent pigment,

Hand poured resin and phosphorescent pigment,

In the light

In the light


B   eveRly Fishman 24

Beverly Fishman received her BFA from the

Award (2003), National Endowment for the

Philadelphia College of Art in 1977, and her

Arts Fellowship Grant (1989), Artist Space

Master of Fine Arts from Yale University in

Grant (1986/1990), and two Ford Founda-

1980. She subsequently taught at the Col-

tion Grants (1979).

lege of New Rochelle, New York, the Maryland Institute College of Art, and Cranbrook

Her work has been reviewed and profiled

Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michi-

in numerous art magazines, newspapers,

gan, where she has been Artist-in-Residence

and scholarly publications, the most recent

and Head of Painting since 1992.

of which include the Wall Street Journal

Since 2000, Fishman has had nearly two-

Maria Stafford’s Echo Objects: The Cognitive

dozen one-person exhibitions at galleries

History of Images (2007), and Joe Houston

(2009), Art in America (2008), Barbara

in New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Thessa-

and Dave Hickey’s Optic Nerve: Perceptual

loniki, Chicago, St. Louis, and Los Angeles.

Art of the 1960s (2007).

Her work has also been included in many thematic exhibitions addressing abstraction,

Her work may be found in many public col-

technology, medicine, and the body. Recent

lections including the Toledo Art Museum,

exhibitions include Infinitesimal Eternity:

the Miami Art Museum, the Columbus Muse-

Making Images in the Face of Spectacle,

um of Art, Detroit Institute of Arts, the Stam-

Yale School of Art, New Haven, CT; Op Art:

ford Museum and Nature Center, Cranbrook

Then and Now at the Columbus Museum in

Art Museum, the Kresge Art Museum, Maxine

Ohio; and Dreaming of a More Better Future

and Stuart Frankel Foundation for Art, and

at the Cleveland Art Institute Gallery.

the United Nations Embassy in Istanbul. She is also included in the corporate collections

Ms. Fishman has been awarded numer-

of Hallmark, Inc., the Progressive Art Col-

ous honors including a Hassam, Speicher,

lection, Compuware, UBS Financial Services

Betts, and Symons Purchase Award from

Inc., Daimler-Chrysler Corporation, Cantor

the American Academy of Arts and Let-

Fitzgerald, and Prudential Life Insurance,

ters (2010), Guggenheim Fellowship Award

among others.

(2005), Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation

Photo credits: Shell Hensleigh: paintings Richard Barger: resin sculptures Travis Roozee: portrait of Beverly Fishman


ISBN 978-0-9827872-0-5 Price $10.00


130 Lincoln Avenue, Suite D, Santa Fe, NM 87501 | p (505) 983-9555 | f (505) 983-1284 |

Beverly Fishman "Future Natural"  

Fishman’s work comments on medical data increasingly becoming a part of our identity and our growing reliance on medications to make us look...

Beverly Fishman "Future Natural"  

Fishman’s work comments on medical data increasingly becoming a part of our identity and our growing reliance on medications to make us look...