JD BANKE // THE MEANING OF LIFE IS LIVING
On view December 6, 2015–January 4, 2016
Opening reception Sunday, December 6 (3–5p.m.)
“It’s an inside joke with no one. It’s a plastic bowl of fruit that will rot. It’s a 24 hour circular speedway.”
Seattle-based artist JD Banke’s first solo exhibition at Nationale, THE MEANING OF LIFE IS LIVING, reconsiders the classic vanitas tradition within painting amidst the obligations of millennial life. In a continuation of the style that dates back to the 16th century, Banke carefully arranges skulls, rotten fruit, and similar metaphors for the unavoidable passing of time into stark still life compositions. However, his loose brushstroke and brash palette produces a flatness that almost mocks the grave realism of his predecessors. Banke’s penchant for painting on wood, as opposed to a traditional canvas, likewise rolls an eye at the timeworn conceits of his chosen medium. However, through such techniques, Banke is able both to acknowledge the principle of mortality and to question its propriety within our vastly changed contemporary landscape. In a world of constant social exchange, unending digital archives, and the instantaneous recognition of unlicensed Bart Simpson caricatures, what is the actual import of something as clichéd as a skull? This attempt at definition—the basis of self-awareness—translates into an exhibition brimming with unfiltered criticism and biting humor. It’s a search for meaning within the meaningless; it’s an uncanny perpetuation of a never-ending quest.
JD Banke studied painting and printmaking at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, WA. His work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions at such Seattle spaces as Two Shelves, Glassbox Gallery, Prole Driﬅ, and Vignettes. This past year, Banke was also featured in group exhibitions at Good Mother Gallery in Oakland, CA, and Trestle Projects in Brooklyn, NY, as well as in the publications The Stranger and New American Paintings. Seattle-based choreographer Kate Wallich recently commissioned Banke as Art Director/Set Decorator for her piece Splurge Land, which debuted in April at On the Boards. This is Banke’s first exhibition in Portland, OR.