At Liberty with the Time Frame
Solo show by Aaron Roth
July 16, 2021 – August 10, 2021
Curator Valko Chobanov
Opening: July 16, Friday, 19:00 h.*
FLUCA – Austrian Cultural Pavilion
36 Otets Paisiy St, Plovdiv, Bulgaria
Aaron Roth's current artistic product does not allow a loose invasion of the visitor's eye. To observe its pieces in detail any visitor is demanded to open a beads curtain – covering the open stage of FLUCA distinguishing it as an enclosed space.
The alternating brown and white beads form a mosaic sequence of a few identical stylized palm trees and the euro currency symbol, surrounded by 12 "pixelated" stars. Тhis subtle presence of these plastic fringes suggests a delicate perception of separation between the outside world and the "interior" of the exhibition, combining a false sense of discretion mixed with the symbolic opening of the space's potential to host some kind of a sale.
Thus, constructed by the curtain, the gaze reaches the logical center of the exhibition: the three wide-format canvases located in the core of the container. To create them, the author worked with appropriated images - photos and segments of advertising materials found on the Internet. Working on those paintings Aaron Roth merges the subject/object dichotomy. First of the works is a portrait of a popular Bulgarian politician, but presented only as the fragment taken from a photo of his leather jacket. The aesthetic mechanism used openly questions the oligarch's authority, reducing his image to a detail of his own crumpled garment. The gaze now becomes ambivalently torn in the ironic play between the symbolism of authority filled with machismo and the fetishization of the elegant and expensive fabric of the garment itself.
The strokes together with the precisely picked colors in the oil paintings create the perception for seeing relief monumental plates, which documents in intimate details the objects they depict. The folded and slightly opened curtain of the Mercedes S class - the object of the second central work - allows a partial peek into the interior of a luxury car. In the same way that the fringe curtain does not allow the passage of pests (flies), so the car curtain functions as a permeable membrane, allowing only the eyes of people of high social status. Observed frozen in time, this captured moment stimulates us to "remember" other similar moments - recognizable from the "mafia" films and from the contemporary Bulgarian political reality. The landscape, visible partly behind the car comes in emphasized contrast - a bright orange sky, inspired by a wallpaper in the office of Frank Lopez from the movie Scarface. The entire image is combinatorial - built over the invisible threads between the pursuit of luxury and the instinct for self-destruction.
The flirtation of death and prestige is developed as the subject of the third painting. It depicts an approximate detail of a logotype – that of the cigarettes brand Sobranie London. The detail could also be read as the abbreviation S.O.B. (meaning "son of a bitch" in English). The work gives a code for the demystification of the attractiveness of this commercial product - historically tied to the idea of luxury and first-class quality and sold on the market as an accessible gateway for the average person to the high class.
Undoubtedly, one could see in this project the author's coded critique of the model imposed as dominant in the post-industrial society. A value model in which the notions of prestige through which we perceive "products" become the leading factor in determining their material value. But, despite this, or even exactly due to this - Aaron's attitude to these processes brings him above criticism. With these paintings, he creates a sort of totem – however not of the products, but of the mannerisms in the attitude to them.
“It will work. I am a marketing genius”
- Paris Hilton
Aaron Roth was born in Los Angeles in 1998 and has lived in Bulgaria since he was 12 years old. His current practice is based between Sofia, London, and Plovdiv. In 2021 Roth received a bachelor's degree in painting from the Slade School of Fine Arts (London) with a diploma project on Visual Culture related to pop-folk music. Recently the artist realized in Sofia his solo exhibition "business (end) management" (2021).
* The exhibition will be opened with the special musical performance of Sofia Grancharova