Aaron Rose | Cult

Circle Culture Gallery in Berlin presents RVCA Advocate Aaron Rose 'Cults'. A solo show opening September 18th from 6-9pm and showing through October 5, 2013. 

In Los Angeles, the culture of celebrity practically runs in the water supply. I’ve recently moved to a studio space directly below the Hollywood sign. As I’ve been working on this new body of work, I constantly hear police sirens going off warning tourists to stay away from the sign. This got me wondering about what it is exactly that would compel a person to risk injury and arrest for the chance to get next to and touch a very simple structure of metal and wood. The sign promises something, an association with something larger than life. Something that represents stardom, talent, dreams…the cult of celebrity. It was this that got me thinking about the idea of cults.

California has a long history with cults. From the Merry Pranksters, to Charles Manson, to Jim Jones, this culture runs deep. But it is not these cults that I have been contemplating so much. Those groups have been mined over and over in contemporary art and I am not interested in rehashing. I’m thinking more about the cults of personality, the cults of particular social groups, the cults of belief systems, cults of love, cults of acceptance, cults of success. This is what drives people to risk life and limb to touch the Hollywood sign. This is what interests me.

In thinking about this I’ve realized that there are small cults all around me, and in all of our daily lives. While to some, this word might evoke a negative connotation, I feel quite differently. My close friends, other artists, musicians, filmmakers and even my relationship with my wife are all CULTS. The works in this show pay tribute to these groups, using graphic elements rather than traditionally representational imagery to produce graphic portraiture. These elements include hand-lettering, symbolism and numerology, various pieces of vintage clip art and simple shapes.

For many years my artistic practice involved the use of graphic elements, usually non-representational forms executed in such a way as to blur the lines between high and low cultures. I almost exclusively painted on found objects as a way of literally going to war with the idea of a canvas. However, over the last year I’ve reassessed this idea and have begun creating wall works. This will be my first solo exhibition where these works are shown. Art is much more than the sum of the parts of its construction. Great art succeeds not just because of the image, but also as the result of the cult that surrounds it and gives it meaning. 

Being that this will be the final exhibition at Circle Culture Gallery in its current location, I cannot think of a more touching sentiment. My exhibition is a tribute to all of the artists, gallery staff, collectors and fans who have passed through those doors on Gipsstraße. An entire community of people dedicated to this strange cult that we call art.

Aaron Rose

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