Tony Labat & Tad Savinar: Nice to Meet You
This exhibition combines the works of Tony Labat and Tad Savinar, two influential West Coast conceptualists who explore the personal and the socio-political in drawing, sculpture, video, printmaking, and performance. The title, Nice to Meet You, acknowledges the fact that until this pairing was planned, the artists had never met, and it affirms that both men are interested in reaching audiences in accessible and often humorous ways. It is the combination of a seemingly straightforward approach combined with analyzed anger and astute irony that gives their work its power.
Labat has produced art dealing with identity, labor, violence, and marginalization. He has constantly posited ideas about the artist as an intentional fool and risk taker, as exemplified by his appearance on The Gong Show in 1978 with performance partner Bruce Pollack, and the transformation of his studio into a functional gym in 1980–1981. Works in this exhibition reveal the artist’s interest in implied and realized acts of expression and agency, including Blanket Policy, 1989, a tent made of found paintings; the video Peace Roll, 2006, featuring a performer rolling a giant peace symbol across the streets of San Francisco; and Elevations: Platforms, Stages, & Catwalks, 2012, recent drawings of proposed structures.
Savinar has worked as a visual artist, urban planner, playwright, and director. His works in various media focus on the relationship between the individual and notions of officialdom, be they governmental, religious, or parental. In Man, 2006, an internal and likely unspoken set of feelings about home life, work, and driving are therapeutically announced. Graphic works including Champ, 1983, and Characteristics of a Third World Country, 2008, offer lessons in national pride, economics, and civics. For Savinar, language often functions best as image, where it can slip from spoken to seen, toying with the senses and complicating the everyday.
The exhibition with Labat and Savinar follows our 2011 summer show, Inside & Out, which combined sculptures by Melvin Edwards and drawings by Peter Saul, another set of influential makers whose works share previously unexamined similarities in form and content.
Image: Tony Labat, Peace Roll (detail), 2006, Video still, Courtesy the artist and Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco