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Eben Kling ’09: Bend

Carol Schlosberg Gallery

October 21, 2015 - November 14, 2015

Eben Kling’s work addresses social and psychological issues with humor and an exuberant color palette. Bends showcases fifteen works on paper and one large-scale painting. Kling pokes fun at topics such as consumerism, the media, and authority. Like a cartoon, he depicts characters in moments of panic, gluttony, and desperation, tangled in morally ambiguous situations.

The exhibition title and works on display wrestles with troubling cultural dilemmas that Kling “bends”, applying them to a sandbox universe where he finds authorship over them. “Two Faced No. 1” and “Making Decisions Slowly” (2015) focus on the manipulation of facial features through layering multiple source imagery. Kling borrows physical characteristics from past work and the Internet, and manipulates them digitally by folding and layering them over one another to create something entirely new.
Kling continues to manipulates his figures in the series “Twisty Turny” (2015). This time, Kling looks beyond the face, and contorts the entire body. Each piece consists of a sole figure compacted into the center of a 22”x 30” piece of paper. Their backs fold in on themselves, “twisting” to conform to pressures that can’t be identified, merely imagined as they grimace in agony and glee. Legs and arms flail in an inhuman way as the artist forces them into impossible poses where their gesture and physiology are dependent upon the relationship they have with their environment, peers and outside occasionally unseen forces.

Kling portrays these characters in a way so that they seem comfortable despite being caught in a turbulent world that affords little relief from domineering cultural influences. For example, in “Spring Breakers” (2015) Kling sends his characters off to the beach. They kick back, soak up the sun, and toss a ball around while sinking into a void littered with the spoils of their gallivanting and careless consumption. Ultimately, King contorts the absurdity of everyday life, twisting it through a fictional lens where jubilant characters collide with one another, celebrating amidst the hysteria.

Eben Kling received his BFA from Montserrat College of Art in 2009 and his MFA from Umass Amherst in 2015. He is recipient of the 2014 St. Botolph Club grant for emerging artists, has most recently shown at the Miller Yezerski project space in Boston MA, Eastworks in Easthampton Ma, SEEN Gallery in Pawtucket RI, and Mingo Gallery in Beverly MA. He is one half of the independent curatorial project PlayLaborPlay and is currently the artist in residence at Artspace New Haven until 2016. Upcoming exhibitions include events and shows at New Haven’s City Wide Open Studios in October and Occam Projects in Providence RI in early 2016, and the CT Culture and Tourism Gallery in Hartford.

This exhibition is guest curated by Zachary Naylor ‘14.