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John Sparagana - Going Down for the Third Time

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Bryan Miller Gallery is pleased to present Going Down for the Third Time, a solo exhibition by John Sparagana.

For almost exactly a decade, John Sparagana has been working with found magazine images as his primary material. His process has become increasingly involved as he has slowly adjusted his response to the demands and meanings of working with appropriated media imagery. What began with the cover of a single J. Crew catalogue, forgotten then rediscovered at the bottom of the artist's backpack, has developed into a full-fledged investigation into the way information is presented and disseminated visually within contemporary culture.

Most of Sparagana's newest work originates with imagery that depicts the unfolding or aftermath of tumultuous or catastrophic world events. These range from the Arab Spring uprisings in Cairo to last summer's deadly Love Parade stampede in Germany to the destruction caused by a recent tornado in Missouri. After being subjected to his intense process of physically distressing, dissecting and recombining the image, the particulars of the event are exchanged for a more generalized and allegorical reading.

In some of these new works, Sparagana has introduced as an additional element, appropriated compositions from formalist paintings. These new layers are painted directly on top of the media images, sometimes before and sometimes after they have been processed. In one large scale piece, Malevich's suprematist compositions lend stability to a roiling crowd of protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square. In another, a Morris Louis 'Unfurled' painting combined with a fractured Hélio Oiticica composition frame and divide a close up of a similar crowd. By mapping such highly considered compositions over snapshots of fleeting current events, Sparagana creates an intangible third element that exists somewhere between a staunch sense of certainty and one of tender desperation.


John Sparagana is represented by Bryan Miller Gallery, Houston and Corbett vs. Dempsey, Chicago. His recent exhibitions include "Between the Eyes", Corbett vs. Dempsey, "Hide & Seek", Arratia-Beer, Berlin, "Eraserhead", Fruesorge Contemporary, Berlin, "Crisis Professionals", Bryan Miller Gallery and "Signs of the Apocalypse/Rapture", Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago. Sparagana's work belongs to the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Nelson Atkins Museum, Kansas City, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago and the Sheldon Museum of Art, Lincoln, NE. Reviews include Artforum, Art in America, Artlies, Time Out Chicago, Houston Press & Arts Houston. Sparagana received his MFA from Stanford University, 1987. He lives and works in Houston and Chicago and is Professor of Painting and Drawing at Rice University, Houston.