Whitehot Magazine

Diana Shpungin: (Untitled) Portrait of Dad


Diana Shpungin, I Especially Love You When You Are Sleeping, 2011
24 x 36 x 68 inches, graphite pencil, citrus tree, citrus leaves, medical tape, newspaper obituaries
Courtesy of the artist and Stephan Stoyanov Gallery

Diana Shpungin: (Untitled) Portrait of Dad
Stephan Stoyanov Gallery
29 Orchard Street
New York, NY 10002
May 22nd until July 3rd, 2011

We presume that mortality lies still in accords with our social and theoretical expectations that reassure our human psyche—a mind that requires closure with goodbyes. Conversely, Diana Shpungin renders counterintuitive living apparitions of her late father in Shpungin’s first brazen solo exhibition (Untitled) Portrait of Dad. Comprised mainly of haunting black pencil on paper, the show’s works unfurl memories of ubiquitous paternal images. As content dissolves into form, Shpungin’s gritty surfaces allude to repetitive meditation and expose Shpungin’s individualistic style, as this is her first show after nearly ten years of collaboration with another artist. Drawings appear unfinished. However the artist loops her drawing series into rough animations. Surprisingly, the rhythmic viewing stables her appropriately disturbing images. They no longer stir.

Shpungin not only appealed to family photographs, stories and superstitions but also to a specific Felix Gonzalez-Torres installation (1991) sharing the same title as Shpungin’s present exhibition. Gonzalez-Torres’s interactive concept piled a mass of white candy purportedly the same weight as his own father. Gonzalez-Torres had encouraged viewers to take pieces home with them, and in time the sweets disappeared. Shpungin’s depiction of loss echoes the 1991 Gonzalez-Torres performance, insofar as Shpungin gifts a ton of potatoes, 1664 Sundays (2011). 1664 represents the number of Sundays, which she and her father shared on earth. The hand-drawn animation You Will Remember This (2011) hovers above 1664 Sundays and loops a voice recording of her father recalling the acquisition of his first car. He had bartered with potatoes in Soviet Russia’s black market.

It pains me to say that the overt allusion to Gonzalez-Torres takes away from Shpungin’s presentation; as the legacy of Gonzalez-Torres literally overshadows Shpungin’s collection. As Shpungin references another artist’s work in the very title of her show, she immediately loses powerful impact on the audience who view living work and voyeuristically remembers the past. Perhaps Shpungin intends atmospheric tension.

With unambiguous certitude, (Untitled) Portrait of Dad shines through a palpable haze. Even Shpungin’s grayscale standing sculptures cast a penumbra, a motif of light and dark. Shpungin gazes at the dichotomy between an empirical observation, figurative portrait, and a tacit narrative, pithy illumination in a man’s long life. Considering Shpungin’s past art reputation, the exhibition morphs from conceptualism and flutters in nostalgia. The show expresses proverbial brevity with Shpungin’s artistic growth.


Diana Shpungin,
Until it No Longer, 2007-20, drawing installation
drawings used for animation, 49 drawings each drawing 9 x 12 inches overall 42 x 60 inches
pencil on paper, archival mounting and mat board, pickled ash wood

Courtesy of the artist and Stephan Stoyanov Gallery

Diana Shpungin,
Until it No Longer, animation still
Courtesy of the artist and Stephan Stoyanov Gallery

Diana Shpungin, 1664 Sundays, 2011
overall dimensions aprx. 100 x 150 x 36 inches; aprx. one ton of assorted potatoes
Courtesy of the artist and Stephan Stoyanov Gallery

Diana Shpungin,
Apprentice Progression Methodology, 2011drawing installation
dimensions 26 x 36 inches, pencil on paper, archival mounting board, medical tape, staples, drywall

Courtesy of the artist and Stephan Stoyanov Gallery



Megan Garwood

Megan M. Garwood graduated from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, receiving a Bachelor of Arts concentrating in the History of Modern Art with a minor in Ethical Analysis and Morality. Once in New York City she paid her dues as a gallery girl, first at Bjorn Ressle Fine Art and next at Marlborough Chelsea. For the past three years she has worked as an Arts and Culture freelance writer for multiple international publications. Each morning she still asks herself if she feels more like a urinal than a work of art, only because “R.Mutt” is scrawled across her left shoulder.

Contact: mmgarwoo@gmail.com
Portfolio: http://meganmgarwood.blogspot.com/

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