New work by Craig Drennen.

Join us Friday, September 11th at 6pm for the opening reception of NEW MISTRESS VS. OLD ATHENIANS, a solo show of new work by Atlanta-based artist Craig Drennen. Drennen previously showed with BFP in 2005 (see: Helen Slater as Supergirl). Drennen's work can be seen in our small gallery, 104. This show opens concurrently with MAKER MARKS, a group show in our large gallery, 105.

Since 2008, Drennen has based his studio practice around Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens, a play considered Shakespeare’s most problematic work. For each character in the play, he produces a distinct body of work based on contemporary associations, resulting in a collection of related pieces composed of separately considered parts.

Temporary Storage Gallery (small gallery 104)
119 Ingraham St., ground floor
Brooklyn, NY 11237
September 8th-October 9th / Opening reception on September 11th, 6-10 pm
Gallery hours (other than receptions and posted events): Wednesday-Saturday, 12-6 or by appointment. Contact 646-491-1730 or to schedule your visit.

Details from new work by Craig Drennen: Eighth Mistress (22"x20" and 2.5" dotted line, oil on canvas and latex paint on wall) and Old Athenian (32"x32" and variable dimension monochrome, photo emulsion on canvas and latex paint on wall)

Atlanta-based artist Craig Drennen has arranged his studio practice around Shakespeare’s failed tragedy Timon of Athens since 2008, dedicating himself to producing symbolic portraits of every character in the play. The unique visual language he develops for each character allows him to explore myriad painting techniques--from minimalism to trompe l’oeil to mechanical reproduction, all of which he handles with equal respect and mastery--while still maintaining a cohesive vision within the body of work.

In New Mistress vs Old Athenians, Drennen juxtaposes the characters of two prostitutes (combined as a singular Mistress in his depictions), and an Athenian man. Drennen’s Mistress paintings always feature a realistic oil painting, with anatomically-specific jpg submissions from anonymous adults acting as the reference source. The realism of the subject is contrasted by a bold black line painted directly on the wall, forming a path that reads as stage directions or a sports play (sports imagery is not far off the mark--Drennen’s representation of one character features a basketball, a 24-second-clock and a sporty “Hello” rendered in an athletic font). His Old Athenian portraits are composed of a printed photographic image of Udo Kier as Dracula in Warhol’s Blood of Dracula. The image is subjected to “as many stages of mediation and mechanical reproduction as possible,” says Drennen. He photographs Kier’s face as it appears on the television screen playing the DVD of the film.

The Mistress character was the first Drennen explored and has not gotten a new addition since 2010, which is when Drennen began portraying Old Athenian. This is the first installation putting these characters together, and they never share the stage in Shakespeare’s play. The title of the show suggests adversary, a standoff, which Drennen accentuates by installing his Mistress painting facing off against the Old Athenians. From a statement by the artist, “Any combination of characters can be exhibited together at any time so that the exhibition environment becomes a “stage” where the characters must visually and conceptually interact.” Drennen says that these two characters staged together produce a set of binaries he finds interesting--"The "new" vs. the "old," the hand painted vs. the mechanically derived, representation vs. reductive abstraction, and so on.”

There’s a special irony in Drennen’s choice of focusing on Timon of Athens: The play opens with a conversation between a Poet and a Painter. Drennen has taken on both of these roles by using painting as a visual language that poetically re-interprets the play through its characters and their relationships. Whereas the Poet and Painter shallowly praise Timon in exchange for rewards, Drennen scours the text to understand and depict each character and every spectral presence barely alluded to in the stage directions, as wholly as the figures central to the story.

Seven years into the project, Drennen has yet to paint Timon.



Helen Slater as Supergirl was Atlanta-based artist Craig Drennen's first New York solo show. The show ran from February to March 2005 at Brooklyn Fire Proof's previous location on Richardson St. in Williamsburg (the gallery progenitor of the larger complex of businesses in Bushwick/East Williamsburg that now comprise BFP). Drennen focused his studio practice on Supergirl, the failed 1984 spinoff of the successful Superman franchise, for over five years. 

Copied below is the press release for the show, and a gallery of images of the work.

Helen Slater as Supergirl
Craig Drennen: Paintings, Drawings, and Multiples

101 Richardson Street, between Leonard St. and Meeker Ave.,
February 11 - March 12, 2005
Reception: Friday, February 11, 8 - 11 PM

Helen Slater as Supergirl is Craig Drennen’s first solo exhibition in New York City. The exhibition consists of paintings, drawings, and sculptural multiples all based on the 1984 movie Supergirl. Drennen organizes his entire artistic practice around Supergirl, which starred Helen Slater in the title role. It allows Drennen the opportunity to comment on the ascendancy of film from the vantage point of traditional media, and to refer to a subject that “is familiar to everyone, but not truly known by anyone.”

10 PM Live Music Opening Night Featuring 18 the Brooklyn-based band with a potent mix of music for your kundalini. 18 is Bob, Derrick, Tucker and Boss.