KATIE BATTEN, JONATHAN CASELLA & SARAH MIKENIS // everything we ever wanted
On view June 3–July 6, 2015
Opening reception Wednesday, June 3 (6–8 p.m.)
Appropriation’s rapid takeover of the 80s art market, as exemplified in Richard Prince’s unapologetic rephotographing of advertisements, marked a cultural shift from the previous decade’s conscientious ethos into an economics of greed. While such overt decadence eventually waned in the face of grim financial realities, consumerism’s hold on the arts remains afloat, buoyed by the often contrarian demands of a new digital generation. For Katie Batten, Jonathan Casella, and Sarah Mikenis—the three young artists on view in Nationale’s group painting exhibition Everything We Ever Wanted—this friction between artifice and authenticity transpires into explosions of color and pattern appropriated not from magazine pages, but the Internet’s undulating stream of imagery.
The motivating tension within these works likewise parallels a uniquely millennial belief in the fallacy of potential. Nicknamed the “Me Generation,” today’s young adults harbor impossible personal expectations continuously stoked by daily reminders of their contemporaries “success” via social networks like Facebook and Instagram. Life viewed within this construct of carefully edited online personas confuses happiness with affluence, relaxation with indulgence. Batten, Casella, and Mikenis, while also rebelling against the high formalism of their chosen medium, utilize painting and its art historical context as a means of expressing this generational struggle. Abstraction, kitsch, and the still life find rejuvenation through extravagant textures, aggressive palettes, and conspicuous accumulations that question our narcissistic digital impulses. Batten’s canvases, for instance, playfully layer homages to the flat aesthetic of Manet and Matisse with materialistic objects like trendy mason jars, iPhones, and Artforum magazines. Casella, meanwhile, utilizes a similar neon color palette for his dizzying, collaged compositions, creating almost virtual spaces wherein the two- and three-dimensional battle for visual dominance. This interest in hyperrealism also carries into Mikenis’ heterogeneous constructions. Sourcing patterns from the image-collecting website, Pinterest, she fashions simultaneously figurative and abstract visions that, while seductive in their immediate materialism, remain unattainable in their irrationality. Dizzying in their excess, Batten, Casella, and Mikenis represent a contemporary aesthetic impulse that is guided by the moment, as opposed to the monumental.
Katie Batten received her BFA from the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design in 2012. Working out of Philadelphia, PA, she has exhibited at such institutions as Gallery 1301, Baltimore, MD; Nomadic Gallery, Milwaukee, WI; and Tacocat Cooperative, Columbus, OH.
Jonathan Casella is a Texas born painter now living in Portland, OR. He’s studied art in San Francisco and has shown at CAMH in Houston, the Luggage Store in San Francisco, Galerie C.O.A. in Montréal, QC, and in various pop-ups set up in New York hotel rooms.
Sarah Mikenis currently lives and works in Eugene, OR while pursuing her MFA at the University of Oregon. Born and raised in Portland, she has shown locally at the White Box and the Gallery at the Jupiter Hotel, and is a member of the artist run Ditch Projects in Springfield, OR.
Sam Hopple's review for 60 Inch Center
Rebecca Carlisle's review for Oregon ArtsWatch
Megan Burbank's review for The Mercury
Katie Batten on Women Artists
Jonathan Casella on SightUnseen
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