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JAMAL CYRUS | JONATHAN GOLD

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press release

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CTRL gallery is pleased to present new works by Houston native Jamal Cyrus and Tel Aviv artist Jonathan Gold.

Jamal Cyrus' new body of work is a self-contained object lesson on the subject of political activism and the reaction it elicits from those in the seat of power. He begins with graphite renderings of posters announcing radical black activist meetings and rallies that took place during the late 60's and early 70's. From there he moves on to a large-scale, digitally manipulated photograph from just such an event. The photograph, printed on canvas, hangs between two poles in the form of a banner carried at the front of a protest march. Cyrus brings the lesson to a close with large graphite drawings based on the declassified FBI memorandums that were circulated as part of the US government's effort to monitor and control these groups' activities.
Cyrus' new work is less about the identity and agendas of specific movements, or individuals associated with them, than it is about defining the essence of all struggle for political and social change.
Jamal Cyrus has exhibited in museums and galleries nationally and internationally. His work was included in the 2006 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and, along with his art collaborative "Otabenga Jones and Associates" created the "hybrid exhibition-classroom-performance piece" Lessons from Below, currently on view at the Menil Collection, Houston. Cyrus received a BFA from the University of Houston (2004) and will receive his MFA from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in 2008.

Schooled in the European tradition, Jonathan Gold's painterly influences range from the Norwegian symbolist Edvard Munch to French Rococo painter Antoine Watteau to German Expressionist Otto Mueller. Yet his subject matter remains rooted in his experience of the land he knew first and the culture he knows best. Depicting a side of the Middle Eastern experience that we rarely see or think about, Gold's paintings afford a glimpse of those in-between places where time seems to have come to a standstill. These paintings carve out moments of mysteriously mundane stillness where camels and donkeys appear matter-of-factly alongside pick-up trucks and lampposts, a group of young men tirelessly shear sheep or haul trash and a camel has been strangely strung up and abandoned in the desert. Several other paintings have a more utopian feel, reminiscent of classical European leisure scenes, with figures lounging under palm trees beside flowing streams. Whatever the subject matter, Gold's paintings all have an enchanted, timeless quality.
Before coming to Houston, this new series of paintings was included in the 2007 Herzliya Biennial at the Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv.
Jonathan Gold received his Master's degree from the Rijksakademie, Amsterdam. His work has been exhibited internationally in galleries and museums including the Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, Sommer Contemporary, Tel Aviv, Haswellediger & Co., New York, and the Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art, Israel.