October 20, 2007
through November 17, 2007
NEW YORK, NY (October 2007) – American artist Chris Mars debuts more than 25 new works in his exhibition New Salem, opening at Jonathan Levine Gallery in New York City on October 20, 2007. The paintings, all created this year, reflect themes of political persecution and corruption, interpersonal unity and cruelty, condemnation, redemption and hope by use of Mars’ stunning technical control of his medium, and his wrenching empathy relative to world events.
Mars’ personal vision was borne of his intimate childhood experience with mental illness. When Mars was a small boy, his oldest brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia and institutionalized. He witnessed the cruel response of society, denial from his own family, and the prison-like corridors of the state hospital where his brother was held captive, probed, and drugged. This traumatic experience struck him profoundly. An oeuvre that began in championing the misunderstood, over-medicated and under-cared for wards of the medical establishment found a natural evolution into the championing of all those who are misunderstood or persecuted. At times, New Salem evokes a call for understanding, warmth, and sympathy. Yet more searing testimony is portrayed as well with a shift in tone from urging comfort for the Victim to a proposed unmasking of the Perpetrator.
The artist himself holds strong social and political beliefs but feels the presentation of “truth” in his work is limited, as it is still a very personal one. Mars does not profess to offer objectivity – merely the honest inspection of himself relative to his environment. He does not teach, but rather reveals. Says Mars: “I’m just tattling, not holding trial.” He considers individual interpretation a crucial element in his work. “My goal is to generate consideration and create dialog, in hopes that thinking about something, talking about it, and considering it, can lead to peace – personally, socially, or politically. I seek to generate an authentic emotional response, then to analyze it, then see if the emotional response is an appropriate one. I want a viewer to feel. I always want a viewer to think about how they feel, and why.” As of the date of this release, it is not known whether the rather reclusive Mars will be in attendance at the opening reception of New Salem.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
The work of Chris Mars has been exhibited at Museums such as: The Minneapolis Institute of Art, The Minnesota History Center, The Longview (Texas) Museum of Fine Art, The Erie Art Museum, The Steensland Art Museum, The Frederick Weisman Art Museum, The American Visionary Art Museum and Art Center of South Florida. His work is also held in numerous prestigious public and private collections. Once known best as a musician, Mars was a founding a member of The Replacements, and after their demise recorded four highly-touted solo albums. He dedicated himself to the visual arts rather exclusively by the mid-1990s. Tolerance, Mars’ debut monograph featuring over 100 of his paintings, will be released in late spring of 2008. The artist says, “It’s a ‘green’ book. Published using vegetable-based inks, on recycled, bleach-free paper. It was not made by slaves, the printing costs do not sponsor State tyranny, no child’s hands will have sewn the binding. It’s green and it’s fair-trade. It took a while to make that happen. I think I’m as proud of that as I am of the work inside it.”