“I view my practice within the context of this time I live in, while embracing nostalgia and romanticism for their tender and universal sensibilities."
- Stuart Netsky
Gross McCleaf Gallery is pleased to present Stuart Netsky’s rich digital paintings and colorful sculptural assemblages in Walking Backward into the Future. Here, Netsky continues his innovative exploration of materials and themes well known from his seminal 1992 ICA exhibition, Time Flies. This earlier work, created during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, courageously explored the intersections of the HIV/AIDS epidemic with contemporary domestic life, popular culture, and Western art history. During Netsky’s retrospective in 2006, Rosenwald Wolf Gallery Curator Sid Sachs described Netsky as having a practice that, “operates at the nexus of social representation and sculpture, sexual cliché, and self-presentation. Echoing a variety of historical styles such as Pop Art, Pattern and Decoration, and color field, Netsky retains a crisp classical sense of craft and sense of humor that is deadly serious.” His latest work is no exception as Netsky continues with a clear-eyed honesty and queer sensibility.
Walking Backward into the Future features his new body of work, produced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Netsky states these digital paintings and sculptures, “reflect the temporal paradox in pop culture whereby the past is brought to the present, the present to the past.” Like so many other Gross McCleaf artists, Netsky’s work is in dialogue with art historical imagery and themes. His central imagery appropriates passages from the 18th century artist Francois Boucher, whose rebellious, lavish Rococo style was unrestricted, ornamental, theatrical, romantic, sexual, yet sentimental. Netsky says of his new work, “The rococo and abstraction, op art and pop art, film and realism, microscopic images of viruses, and the psychedelic all come together, spliced, layered, and distorted.”
Walking Backward into the Future maintains its sense of humor, romance, and sentimentality as well as a forward-looking optimism. After four decades of artmaking in Philadelphia, and as one of our distinguished artists, Netsky’s work maintains its strong and direct vision of the human spirit. He remarks, “I view my practice within the context of this time I live in, while embracing nostalgia and romanticism for their tender and universal sensibilities.”
Stuart Jan Netsky was born in Philadelphia, PA. In 1977 through 1983, Netsky was the President and head designer of his own millinery design company in New York City. In 1983, he received a Bachelor of Science in Design and Merchandising from Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA. Since 1984, Netsky has been pursuing his career as a professional artist. He received a Master of Art in Art Education from Philadelphia College of Art in 1986 and went on to receive a Master of Fine Art in sculpture from Tyler School of Art, Elkins Park, PA in 1990. Netsky was an Adjunct Professor at The University of the Arts, Philadelphia, and is currently an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Jefferson University.
Stuart Netsky has had solo exhibitions of his work at Philadelphia’s Institute of Contemporary Art, Larry Becker Contemporary Art, Richard Anderson, NYC, Locks Gallery, Bridgette Mayer Gallery, and a retrospective at the Rosenwald Wolf Gallery, University of the Arts. He has also shown in innumerable group shows nationally and internationally. In 1995, he received the Pew Fellowship in the Arts. His work is in the collections of The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, The Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Woodmere Art Museum, as well as the Johnson and Johnson Collection and many private collections. This is Netsky’s first solo exhibition with Gross McCleaf Gallery.