| A Gerald Ferguson painting dating to 1968. |
It’s been four decades since Information showed at the Museum of Modern Art—and about time that Jerry Ferguson’s paintings were shown once again in New York City.
NSCAD grad Luke Murphy is making that happen. He’s organizing the exhibition, Gerald Ferguson. Work., which will run at Canada in New York City from January 7 to February 12. The exhibition will comprise 15 large-scale key works from the late artist’s body of work, including three early paintings from the late 1960s and eight later “frottages,” which were made by rolling paint over various collections of objects: clothesline, 50-feet of tangled rope, drain covers and door mats.
A student of Ferguson’s who attended NSCAD in the 1980s, Luke Murphy has been based in New York City since graduating in 1988. He believes the current generation of artists will be interested in viewing Ferguson’s paintings and the struggle they innately express.
“Their work is almost an echo of the process-based work that Jerry was doing,” says Luke in a phone interview.
“You look at an exhibition like Information and Jerry was really the odd man out because he was a painter when painting was considered dead. You see him struggling with issues, such as the dematerialization of the object, and it’s so very interesting.”
The influential exhibition Information marks a crucial moment for conceptual art and included work by David Askevold, John Baldessari and Sol DeWitt—all artists with strong associations with NSCAD, then a conceptual art hothouse even though it was so far off the beaten track.
Jerry Ferguson died in 2008. He came to teach at NSCAD in 1968, was instrumental in the founding of the Master of Fine Arts program in 1973, and served as chair of the Divisions of Studio and Graduate Studies during his tenure. He was a Director of the Lithography Workshop and a founding member of the NSCAD Press serving on the editorial board until his retirement in 2005. Recipient of the 1995 Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize, he was a noted expert and collector of folk art and historical Canadian painting.
As a teacher and an artist, he contributed greatly to the international reputation acquired by the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in the 1970s. Named Professor Emeritus in 2008, he was beloved by his students and inspired generations of artists.
A painter and digital artist, Luke sees something else besides the rigor and obsession with process in Ferguson’s frottages. “I always find when I look at these pieces that there is a deep psychology behind them, a kind of loneliness, the pathos of the object.”
He hopes audiences are able to discover this work anew. “Come take a look and let’s talk about them,” he says.
Gerald Ferguson. Work. opens January 7 at Canada, 44 Chrystie St. (between Hester & Canal), New York. For more info, see canadanewyork.com.