Arthur Peña and Josh Reames “I’m Feeling Much Better Now”

Selenas Mountain

poster for Arthur Peña and Josh Reames “I’m Feeling Much Better Now”
[Image: Josh Reames "Under the bright lights" (2022) Enamel, acrylic, celluclay on canvas 66 x 78 in.]

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Selenas Mountain presents I’m Feeling Much Better Now, an exhibition of new artwork by two New York-based painters, Arthur Peña and Josh Reames. The artwork on display fluctuates between the brutal and the mischievous, an optical landscape that will stimulate your psyche. Somewhere between the death drive and the funny bone, these paintings may induce fear, laughter, nausea, existential dread, or joy. This exhibition is the vibe check for a listless society obsessed with fresh bad news delivered through tiny screens.

Arthur Peña creates paintings with vivid illustrations of abrasive imagery and dark subject matter. Stylized depictions of knives, body parts, fire, spiders, and skeletons, tell a non-linear visual narrative. One that reflects on impermanence and the fragility of life. The bold lines embody an aura of danger and vice, reminiscent of the seedy neon signs of bail bonds, adult video, and liquor stores. A larger-than-life painting of an eye ball is overlaid with a menacing bear trap located directly over the pupil. An uneasy visual, but one you can’t look away from, reminiscent of the iconic sliced eye-ball scene in Salvador Dali and Luis Buñuel’s surrealist film “Un Chien Andalou.” A separate sculptural work depicts a bedazzled hand with a kitchen knife sticking through the palm. A violent and edgy wall work that once again places the viewer in a state of psychological vulnerability.

When speaking on his studio process, Peña shares his rationale for the unique naming convention for this never-ending body of work “Nearly incompatible series of paintings act as components of one unified, ongoing body of work titled Attempt. The numbered series is characterized by both overt formal connections between successive works and abrupt discontinuities or reversals.” This is a play on the common trope of “untitled” paintings in the canon of art history, but a creative way to add specificity, repetition, continuation, and an essence of always striving for deeper understanding, in the titles of his works.

Josh Reames’s paintings are a unique voice for our doom scroll generation. A conglomerate of signs and signifiers that blur the lines between low brow and fine art, abstract painting and internet meme culture. Influenced by the likes of Albert Oehlen and Sigmar Polke, Reames’ paintings have a flair for expressive mark-making and overall composition. The end result is a practice that breaks down the hierarchy of images and information in a post-modern reflection on our social media obsessed culture. With an air of adolescent irreverence, coupled with a genuine painterly interest in making good paintings, Reames’ work is both humorous and compelling.

In Under the bright lights, Reames paints thick applications of rainbow colored brushstrokes on top of a black & white screen-printed ground. A sticker in the lower right reads “As Seen on TV.” Compared to his previous body of work, this new series of paintings are much more paired down. Instead of an amalgam of signifiers and marks, Reames has asked us to reflect on a few key elements to get his point across. A series of smaller paintings depict psilocybin magic mushrooms sarcastically juxtaposed above “God is #1” bumper stickers. Collaging opposing views of the hallucinogenic hipster and bible-belt notions of the divine.

About the Artists

Arthur Peña (b. 1982, Dallas, TX) is a Bronx based artist. Recent gallery exhibitions include Magenta Plains (NYC), Anton Kern (NYC) with solo presentations at Spring/Break Art Show (NYC) and Expo Chicago. Through his curatorial project One Night Only, Peña has curated solo exhibitions of Nicole Eisenman, Carrie Moyer, and Ellen Berkenblit. His conversation based project In the Meantime debuted during the initial 2020 COVID lockdown and featured Dike Blair prior to his online solo exhibition with Karma and his conversation with Marina Adams served as the exhibition text for her online exhibition with Salon 94. Peña received his MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2012.

Josh Reames (b. 1985, Dallas, TX) is an artist currently living and working in upstate New York. Recent solo exhibitions at Galerie Frank Elbaz (Dallas), OTI (Los Angeles), Bill Brady Gallery (Miami), Josh Lilley Gallery (London), and Brand New Gallery (Milan). Notable group exhibitions at Team Gallery (NYC), Andrea Rosen Gallery (NYC), Koenig Galerie (Berlin), Museo Di Capodimonte (Naples), and 356 Mission (Los Angeles). Reames received his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2012 prior to moving to New York.



from September 17, 2022 to October 15, 2022

Opening Reception on 2022-09-17 from 19:00 to 22:00

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