THE INDEPENDENT VOICE OF THE VISUAL ARTS
By Amanda Lancour
It’s not common, when touring a gallery exhibit, that one picture steals the whole show. Yet that is exactly what happened at the Catherine Edelman Gallery recently when I gazed at artist Gregory Scott’s video that explores the literal recreation of a master’s work, Vincent van Gogh’s Bedroom (1889).
Scott turns an icon of 19th Century art history into a live, addictively alluring creation, injecting elements of surprise and levity. He manages to concoct a carefully crafted cocktail of oil painting (oil on panel), photography (pigment print) and a close to nine-minute video into a mesmerizing tour-de-force.
Gregory Scott, Van Gogh’s Bedroom, 2017, Multimedia.
As a self-portrait imposed onto a master’s work, Scott presents himself as Van Gogh. He physically builds and enters the artist’s bedroom universe. We see Scott painting the floor, installing the walls and filling the room with furnishings—chair, window, nightstand with wash basin and pitcher and the bed.
He expertly mimics the original work’s tranquility, creating an intimate relationship between himself, Van Gogh and the viewer. Entering his recreation, Scott sits in the simple wooden chair, looking past a famous vase of sunflowers out the window. Scott then appears at the window, dressed as the Mona Lisa, while a splendid Starry Night appears behind her. Next, he takes mail out of the desk drawer and hands it to the mailman whom we can identify as Postmaster Roulin.
Scott ribs modern culture by taking a selfie with a selfie stick as we see Van Gogh’s famous self-portrait on the background wall. He then places a hat on his head and another self-portrait appears in a frame on the wall. His work complete, the artist sits on the bed enjoying the fruit of his labor.
How does Scott do it?
Piece by piece, brush stroke by brush stroke, I found Scott’s meticulous dissection and rebuilding of art history a wet, tangible seduction. All of the wiring and other physical components are attached to the inside of the frame, making his works self-contained. In this way, Scott gives viewers a glimpse of art history in what is essentially a television frame.
One can enjoy the art without looking for a hidden meaning or motive behind what the person is viewing capturing art history’s timelessness while, at the same time, ribbing modern technology. Besides Van Gogh, Scott has created a suite of video recreations that explore the artistic process and creative thought, moving portraitures of such artists as Mark Rothko, James Terrell, Frank Stella and Cy Twombly. The series is meant to combine high and low art, uniting art outsiders and connoisseurs. By successfully merging the past with the present, Scott treats each at face value.
These short digital film animations take viewers on a witty journey through various art genres while fully exposing the ways in which the “secret sauce” is created. One can easily stay watching The Bedroom, transfixed in place, and let it loop again and again.
Amanda Lancour is a commercial and advertising photographer with a background in art history and gallery curation during her formative years. She has recently relocated back to Chicago from New York City