Callicoon Fine Arts is pleased to present Vehicles, an exhibition of sculptures and paintings by Nicholas Buffon. This is Buffon’s fifth solo presentation at the gallery.
It’s impossible to ignore the vehicles cruising the East Village where Buffon lives. These beasts dominate the streets, transporting goods and providing services to our feeble bodies. Slipping through the arteries and veins of this city, they clog the roads and belch pollution. But we can’t complain! Their every drip and dribble means someone is earning a paycheck, a bodega is being re-stocked.
These vehicles don’t just move, they have voices that honk, beep, scream, and rumble. They express themselves with vinyl graphics, customization, and those seductive curves. Their rear-ends block sidewalks and their bodies obscure views. Each vehicle is a living specimen from Buffon’s urban ecosystem, often hinting at gay culture. They are plastered with innuendo—a buff dog licks a sausage; plump, technicolor balloons crowd every square inch of a sprinter van. The descriptions written upon several vehicles, like “Fruit Exchange,” are suggestions of utility with a twist. These vehicles measure time, like animals, as their cycles become recognizable with frequent viewings. Buffon photographs these creatures in downtown Manhattan, then paints their portraits.
These cars and trucks live adjacent to and in the service of buildings. The exteriors of these buildings are vehicles for the businesses that occupy them. Buffon’s paintings of LGBTQ establishments are part of an ongoing series that illustrate social spaces. In these paintings, Buffon fuses his own photographs with images from Google Street View, then renders the composite image in acrylic paint. Foreground and background coalesce, making every detail appear tightly in-focus.
Some locations are transitory: The Cock, for example, is pictured here in its third location on Second Avenue. Breaking Ground (2018) celebrates the construction of The Center, an LGBTQ stronghold in Cleveland, Ohio. Zoe Leonard on the Highline (2018) captures a temporary installation of Leonard’s poem, “I want a president” (1992). In Bethesda Fountain (2019), all elements, including queer sculptor Emma Stebbins’ Angel of the Waters fountain at the center, are made equal through Buffon’s consistent use of texture and color. The fountain, unveiled in 1873, is the earliest public artwork by a woman in New York City. Buffon’s vivid details, normally lost in the rush, breath life into the cast of characters that inhabit this city.
Nicholas Buffon (b. 1987, Seattle, WA) is a painter and sculptor who lives and works in New York. He attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA (BFA, 2008), and the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts, Bard College, in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY (MFA, 2011). Recent solo exhibitions include Callicoon Fine Arts (2016) and Freddy, Baltimore, MD (2014). In 2018, he participated in FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art, Akron Museum of Art; and Spatial Flux: Contemporary Drawings from the JoAnn Gonzalez Hickey Collection, Gregory Allicar Museum of Art at Colorado State University. His work has been included in exhibitions at the Jewish Museum, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD), Michigan; the Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, North Carolina; QT Gallery, Chicago; and The Hole, Foxy Production, and Shoot The Lobster, all in New York. His work can be found in public collections including the Rubell Family Collection, Miami; the Kadist Foundation, San Francisco; and the Akron Art Museum, Ohio. Most recently in 2019, Buffon mounted a major solo exhibition at Poets House in New York City.