The canvases reflect Clem’s ongoing exploration of glamour as a form of abjection, as well as his morbid fascination with the decadence of global capitalism. The paintings of oozing black glitter frozen in resin, alluring yet sinister, suggest the oil spills that befoul the Texas coastline—and the vast fortunes made from this primitive substance. The image of the “pour” is represented as a slippery gesture – its material usage furthering the irony of painting itself, as it is a ‘dead’ medium.
The paintings will be paired with sculptures made from used VHS tapes. Since his recent return to Texas from New York, Clem has been collecting cultural debris, particularly the obsolete VHS tapes that first brought the big screen into American living rooms. Culled from thrift stores and garage sales in East Texas, the films range from low-budget B movies to Oscar-winning classics – an index of what reached one of the most rural regions in the country. Clem refers to these sculptures as “totems.” He views them as sacred objects emblematic of an artificially constructed shared past; an archive of collective myths both high and low. As Joan Didion writes, they are “the stories we tell ourselves in order to live,” but ossified into genre; romance, action, drama, horror, thriller.
In pairing ready-mades with expressionist paintings, Clem converges the formlessness of the spills and the careful arrangement of tapes in an act of cultural attrition, with the sheen of the poured glitter functioning as a mirror of our allegorical impulses desiccating on miles of tape.
A native of Paris Texas, Clem is a graduate from the prestigious Whitney Independent Study Program. During more than a decade in New York, Clem is known for launching the influential artists space The Fifth International, which championed the work of Aaron Young, Alex Bag, Jonathan Horowitz and others. Clem’s work has been exhibited widely in the United States and Europe including Deitch Projects in New York, Dallas Contemporary, and Galerie Almine Rech in Paris. His work is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, The Centre George Pompidou in Paris, and private collections in the United States and Europe. Clem is currently represented by the Maccarone gallery in New York and Los Angeles.
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Desperate to Appear Sophisticated and Other Titles- Clem's newest exhibit at the Erin Cluley Gallery in Dallas- effectively comments and pays homage to recent popular culture as experienced by millions nationwide through VHS movies, a fixture in the American living room for decades.