Surrounded by giant digital paintings, graphic memes and people actually lounging on disheveled mattresses on the floor in the middle of Marlborough Chelsea, artist Mark Flood announces “I worked in a museum for 18 years. I’m over it. And I’m looking for other people who are over it too.”
The Houston, Texas-based painter has been over the art world for a while, making digital works, sculptures, and photographs for over two decades that throw a half mast f-you at the over-saturated, hyper-insulated institutionalized art market, too over it to give a full middle finger. His pop-up gallery Mark Flood Resents, where he shows a collection of not for sale works, as well as the 2014 Insider Art Fair where he only displayed his own work in an art fair setting, has earned Flood a following of other irreverent artists like himself, of all ages and styles. For his newest post-punk art stink Flood gathered artist friends from Houston and took over the massive Chelsea gallery with a new, all digitally printed group show called The Future Is Ow.
“Digital painting allows you to make a painting that doesn’t exist,” explains Flood, pointing out the wide range of artists in the show. From Susie Rosmarin’s large-scale digitally painted grid canvases to Paul Kremer’s glitchy digital collages of images of reappropriated art images to Chris Bexar’s video of imaginary, virtually rendered buildings, the works together feel like you got stuck inside an undocumented page on the Dark Web. The most tactile of the pieces is a collection of printed paintings by El Franco Lee II from his early work in graphic novels which hang in the gallery while a set of five identical printed canvases, wrapped in plastic, lean underneath, reminding you that there is no romance in a reproduction.
The varying scale and medium of the work is disorienting, not to mention the pile of pillows and begging in the middle of the gallery. “I put mattresses in because I like people to lay down when they look at art,” says Flood. “I like to keep them from rushing in and out of the gallery as they love to do.” Another strange addition to the large gallery space are a number of small rooms built with makeshift walls. Inside plastic lace curtains, Flood’s NSFW art world memes and copies of art from the other artists are tacked on the walls, resembling a type of art world serial killer lair. A video of actor Adam Rodriguez aggressively reading Flood’s poem White Cube, a commentary on sterile art spaces, and the not-so-sterile bare mattress invites you to stay a while, or perhaps, encourages you to run away.
Thing is, Flood doesn’t really mind if his unconventional exhibition design makes you feel uncomfortable. “I don’t care what happens, it’s just an idea,” he says. Flood has maintained a balance in the art world that seems nearly impossible, acting far enough from it to not worry about judgment but involved enough in it to keep our attention (and get a high-profile gallery to show his weird ideas.) “It’s a powerful thing to detach from outcomes. I just do things.”
The Future Is Ow will be on view at Marlborough Chelsea, 545 West 25th, New York, until February 6, 2016.