JUSTIN BOWER - DO ANDROIDS DREAM?
Maddox Gallery is thrilled to welcome American artist Justin Bower to London for Do Androids Dream?, an online exhibition of his electrifying artworks at Maddox Gallery, beginning 6th April. Dazzling and disorienting interrogations of the human condition, the artist’s hallucinatory paintings can be viewed as a foreshadowing of what’s to come in this new age of rapid technological advancement, Artificial Intelligence, algorithms and hyper-surveillance.
Bower’s first solo show with Maddox Gallery, the exhibition comprises eight fractured depictions of anonymous subjects, disassembled and reborn as avatars or archetypes of the future. Exploring Bower’s ongoing fascination with a very specific time in history – the “before and after’’ that marked the birth of the Internet – the paintings embody the smouldering sense of apprehension and caution that go hand in hand with humankind’s ever-increasing reliance on technology.
Born in San Francisco in 1975, Bower initially gained an undergraduate degree in Art and Philosophy from the University of Arizona before moving to LA full time to pursue a career in art. A Master’s in Fine Arts from Claremont Graduate University followed, together with a plethora of grants and awards, including The Feitelson Fellowship Grant (2010) and The Joan Mitchell Award (2010).
I want my art to be familiar, disturbing and electrifying
In the tradition of the Deconstructionists, who theoretically dismantled long-held beliefs about humanity and the self, Bower’s pixelated, futuristic paintings question to what degree our personal autonomy – which is at the very core of a human being’s identity – is being dismantled by technology. Combining the naturalism and proportions of Renaissance art with the economic, painterly strokes of Abstract Expressionism, from a distance Bower’s subjects are faces with recognisable features, yet when the viewer focusses on just a part of the work, they see a wholly abstract painting.
Citing Willem de Kooning, Leonardo da Vinci and Francis Bacon as influences, Bower compares himself to Dr Frankenstein with the pulling apart and opening up of his subjects and placing them in environments that seep into the shattered figures. Harbingers of the future, his paintings ponder what will become of our dependency on technology. Where do we stand on the subject? What does the future look like and how do we prepare for it? Are we becoming or dissolving?
“Sitting somewhere between figurative and abstract art, Justin’s figures are neither android, nor human,” says Maeve Doyle, Artistic Director of Maddox Gallery.
Unsettling and destabilising, his paintings are cautionary tales of our time - a visual representation of how part of your brain is essentially being taken over whenever you engage with technology. Once you see a painting by Justin, it will be imprinted on your mind forever.
Bower’s art has been the subject of several solo exhibitions in galleries across the United States, including a 2010 exhibition at Ace Gallery in Beverly Hills and a later exhibition at New York’s Unix Gallery in 2013. Bower has also hosted solo shows at Lancaster Museum of Art and History (2015), the Pomona Art Museum (2017) and the Riverside Art Museum (2019). Do Androids Dream? is his first solo show with Maddox Gallery after exhibiting at a group exhibition in Los Angeles in 2022.
ARTIST AT WORK
Go behind the scenes with Justin Bower as he introduces his unique style of painting – a study of humanity that is part alien, part abstraction – from his studio in Los Angeles, California.
Surrounded by the large-scale paintings seen in Do Androids Dream?, the artist gives an insight into his practice and highlights the sense of urgency that accompanies his artworks as he strives to make meaning out of paint.
You will find the soul of humanity through art.
IN CONVERSATION: MAEVE DOYLE x JUSTIN BOWER
Electrifying, disturbing, shocking and familiar are all words used by Maeve Doyle, Maddox’s Artistic Director, to describe the paintings of Justin Bower. Get inside the artist’s mind as Maeve talks to Justin about the role technology plays in his works, the subliminal messages communicated by his paintings and his fears for the future. Should his works be viewed as meditations on humanity, dystopian visions, cautionary tales or all three? Find out as Maeve quizzes Justin on some of the far-reaching themes that inspire him to create, including religion, humanity, freedom and intellect.