When Tynan Kerr and Andie Mazorol get together to paint, their collaboration isn’t a tango. It’s not a duet or a thumb wrestling match, or any other metaphor usually tossed out when artists work in pairs. If anything, it’s a negotiation. Using brushes and a modest arsenal of colors, the two young artists settle into a layered, strategic conversation that turns as much on cooperation and respect as it does on sabotage and self-interest.
For the past two years, Kerr and Mazorol have been slowly building a name in the Twin Cities arts community for their nuanced brand of collaborative painting. Working in teams is nothing new for artists — especially in our clique-heavy, collective happy scene. But Kerr and Mazorol pull of a collabo that goes deeper than the usual artist jam sessions, peeling back their camaraderie to find tension, politicking and the complexly woven admiration that so often binds us to those that we work with.
For their new solo show, Patterns Plants & Animals, Kerr and Mazorol unveil a large portion of new work. It’s their first time tackling a big exhibition space, the Rogue Buddha galley, on their own. With so much wall length to fill, they’ve had to work together now more than ever. As a result, the show as a whole is like a hard-won handshake; you can’t see it without appreciating the diplomacy required to achieve it.
“Kerr and Mazorol complete their paintings as you would imagine a lengthy, intimate conversation between two people closely connected,” said Emma Berg, who curated the upcoming show. Berg first discovered the pair at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design art sale last year and soon after included them in a group Art-A-Whirl exhibition she was installing at the Gallery at Fox Tax.
As is typically the case, getting discovered by Berg was a catalyst for a very successful year for Kerr and Mazorol. The pair followed their Art-A-Whirl show with a commissioned mural on the side of the 331 Club. They then cruised through well-received group exhibitions at SELLOUT gallery and Midway Contemporary Art, and in November were awarded the 2009-2010 Jerome Fellowship for Emerging Artists. The fellowship includes a $10,000 grant and a slot in MCAD’s Jerome Fellowship showcase, scheduled for the fall of 2010.
But their process isn’t the only key to the duo’s success. The content intrigues, as well. Kerr and Mazorol base their paintings on historical portraits, images of personalities both monumental and forgotten. They render their scenes in drippy pastels and flattened perspective, often disguising the players in painted masks. The technique robs the original portrait of its historical reverence, infusing it instead with a sort of tribal mysticism. It feels like voodoo vandalism.
“The paintings seem to arrive through accidental intersections of our intentions,” Kerr and Mazorol say in their artists’ statement.
It’s never entirely clear who did what in any given painting, but the sense of negotiation is there.
Patterns Plants & Animals
New works by Tynan Kerr and Andie Mazorol
Opening Friday, April 2
Rogue Buddha Gallery
357 13th Ave. NE