John Fahey: Critter Konzepts

December 15th - January 12th

TIF SIGFRIDS is happy to announce an exhibition of paintings by the late John Fahey (1939-2001). The exhibition, Critter Konzepts, will open on December 15th with a reception from 4-6 PM. While Fahey is primarily known as a guitarist and composer, his natural proclivity for experimentation lead him to explore painting, writing, running an independent record label, and musicology. A tribute to John Fahey’s music will be performed in the gallery on January 12th at 5PM and will include performances by Tom Watson, Michael Levasseur, Jeremy Kiran Fernandez, Michael Potter, Jacob Sunderlin, and Tif Sigfrids.

Fahey was largely self-taught, in music and painting, both of which benefit from his inquisitive and untutored approach. The “America Primitive” term Fahey would use to characterize his guitar style was borrowed from the Primitivism painters. He would later apply the same “primitive” approach (a hybrid of influences leaning towards the old and overlooked, the strange and the primeval, and playing with form and tradition) to his paintings.

The works in this exhibition could be, and probably should be, thought of as a body of work. Made mostly in the mid to late nineties, they follow the colorful abstract expressionist traditions found in many of Fahey’s other paintings, but (in part) show a stillness. A patience is revealed with a returning and re-returning of the hand. Marker and ink add a black border here, a little text there, and funky stylizations of the human form in far-out places. These areas are the most rewarding hideouts in which to spend more time developing secondary and tertiary reads. My gut tells me these are ecstatic songs and rituals devoted to Fahey’s own fictitious deities (The Skunk Cabbage, the Cat People, etc.). My head tells me these images are compelling, creepy, and coltish (minus the sophistication and polish needed to operate within an art market). My tongue tells me Fahey is a hard artist to pin down. Collectively that is what makes engaging with his work so thrilling.

Exhibition organized by John Andrew.

Thank you to Melissa Stephenson for her blessing and Justin Luke (Audio Visual Arts) for his cooperation.