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CARNIVAL DREAMS 

Wayne Koestenbaum and Jess Scott
April 19 - May 19, 2019 
Opening Reception: Friday, April 19, 7-9PM



Essex Flowers is proud to present Carnival Dreams, a two-person exhibition of work by Wayne Koestenbaum and Jess Scott.

There is strength and complexity in difference. A heterogeneous grouping could be seen to broaden the overall scope of its individual parts. Koestenbaum’s works are completely abstract but at times flirt with figuration while Scott’s, generally figurative, are at times mercurial enough to near abstract shapes and color. The interplay in the combination has the effect of expanding on some shared themes in their conversation. There are individual narratives at play in both, overt and intimated. Carnival Dreams revels in the apparent dissimilarity of these two artist’s expression while also pointing to the locales they share; jouissance, shamelessness and celebration of desires. An ongoing feast without the dreary specter of self-flagellation.

Wayne Koestenbaum’s paintings on canvas, panel and paper are definitively abstract, yet at times they seem to shape-shift between simultaneous views of still-lifes, landscapes and figures. His use of bold saturated color renders flatness and yet it vibrates, bouncing back and forth in depth and perspective, evoking an almost hallucinatory effect. As in his writing, these paintings pronounce themselves, take risks and make bold statements. Shape and color morph into glyphs, figures in action and encounters between inanimate objects while at the same time resist the viewer’s assessment of this personal lexicon of form. Combinations of delicate line drawing and painterly marks on paper create a seemingly torsional movement recalling Surrealism or fragmented Cubist views, however queered through a kaleidoscopic lens.

Jess Scott draws on her own personalized queer pantheon to produce paintings, drawings and sculptures that are at once scrappy, sexy and humorous. By studying, reinterpreting and combining images of wild creatures and male nudes (both abstracted notions for the artist), Scott unifies “objects of danger, pleasure and nature” to express what she sees as a kind of self-portraiture. Using a non-precious treatment of the materials and form, she questions identity as well as all aspects of “the gaze”. The cartoonish figures are made with a casual and confident hand. The anonymous faces and watery bodies of the nudes are hinted at while the more defined rockers of the demimonde pronounce the flirt, the dirt, the kink and the wink.

-Nickolaus Typaldos


Wayne Koestenbaum—poet, critic, artist, performer—has published nineteen books of poetry, criticism, and fiction, including Notes on Glaze, The Pink Trance Notebooks, My 1980s & Other Essays, Hotel Theory, Best-Selling Jewish Porn Films, Andy Warhol, Humiliation, Jackie Under My Skin, and The Queen’s Throat(a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist).  His newest book of poetry, Camp Marmalade, was published in 2018.  He has exhibited his paintings in solo shows at White Columns (New York), 356 Mission (L.A.), and the University of Kentucky Art Museum, as well as in many group exhibitions. His first piano/vocal record, Lounge Act, was released by Ugly Duckling Presse Records in 2017;  he has given musical performances at The Kitchen, REDCAT, Centre Pompidou, The Walker Art Center, The Artist’s Institute, and the Renaissance Society.  He is a Distinguished Professor of English, Comparative Literature, and French at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City.

Jess Scott is a living artist living in Los Angeles (b. 1984, Santa Cruz, CA). She works in paintings, drawings, ceramics, sculpture, graphic design, merchandise, et cetera. Scott also publishes Quinto Quarto Quarterly (QQQ), a print-only quarterly of conversations and incidental material from artists. She also exhibits artists in The Staircase, a ‘temporary, occasional gallery’ in Chinatown, Los Angeles. She has played in several rock + roll groups.