Public Domain, Mary Boone Gallery (Chelsea), New York, New York

March 31 - May 6, 2001


On 31 March 2001 the Mary Boone Gallery will open at its Chelsea location an exhibition of new paintings by DAMIAN LOEB. The exhibition, at 541 West 24 Street, will continue through 5 May 2001. Please contact Ron Warren at the Gallery if we can be of further assistance.


this show is about how movies are better than life. life is full of inconsistencies and complications which really don't move the plot along. in movies, every thing that happens and all you see is there for a reason. in reality, nothing is composed very well. in movies, all the colors and lighting help you know what is important. in real life you have to ignore so much just to concentrate on what you want to see. in movies, there is usualy only one thing that you have over come to get where you want to be. in real life people all look like strangers. in the movies, you can tell who is good and who is going to betray you.

i have made six big paintings which i think capture the good things that make sense in movies. neat places, cool apartments, sexy chicks, and scary grave yards. the dead sheep is cool just because. i have seen these things in real life and they never looked like this. something always fucked it up. in these pictures there is nobody talking to you so you can't concentrate. there isn't anything that is annoying and keeps you from getting into the whole point of stuff. everything just makes sense. if there was something cool that didn't fit into the big picture i made a small one of it.

unfortunately in real life you have to spend a whole lot of time making things look cool. these paintings were a bitch. i always had to bend and twist stuff so it fit in. i know it is cheating but i had to use hundreds of different pieces from all over the place to make the images work. you shouldn't be able to see it though 'cause i made sure that it looked like nothing was changed. it 's cool what you can do with paint if you are really patient. and it is fun to be able to make stuff look the way you want and not the crappy way it really happened.

these are good too because unlike my old stuff hopefully angry photographers wont spend all their time trying to take my money and make me burn my paintings. movies don't have photographers; they call them cinematographers which is a cooler sounding name. and no one can confuse that with someone who paints houses with benjamin moore eggshell white which people do with me when i say that i am a painter.

— damian loeb, march 16, 2001

The post-modern thought of unveiling what is real ('a la Philip K Dick) as opposed to what is only apparently real is being spin-doctored by Damian Loeb in his current show "Public Domain". After one has lifted the veil to uncover a world of ideas one is confronted with another veil, and behind that the orgasmic notion of hyper-reality, where what we know and feel is even better than the real thing. This is the world of hyper-modern cinema, of fashion magazines, of the designer drugs that the laboratory rats at Stanford and Berkeley universities are keeping for themselves. Damian Loeb has acquired some, taken them and is sharing the experience with us through his paintings. The ugliness of this mortal coil is not preferable if one can instead choose to become the last man in a microcosm of perfection that would make Plato or Thomas Aquinus proud. The hyper-reality of Crowleyian/Golden Dawn sigilla is infinitely more rewarding than the multi-facetted dilemmas of day-to-day. The Comedia dell Arte of absolute evil and eternal good in Bergman or Schwartzenegger is more pleasant and tangible than the ambiguity of verfremdung, gluckschmerz and schadenfreude that washes over us the moment we leave the house. We can choose a perfect life. Stay in front of the canvas. Don't go away. Circumvent any thesis - antithesis - synthesis by creating a tunnel vision of absolutes in the movie theater, at home with your DVDs, at the Mary Boone Gallery.

These six large canvases are as absolute and infinite as any imperfect microcosm has to be. The themes of sex and death, the private space, public xenophobia and spiritual decay speak in absolutes. Loeb has referenced E.M. Cioran's A Brief History of Decay, William Blake's illustrations to Dante's comedies and Warhol's serigraph work. He depicts a state of grace in the same manner as the painters of medieval illuminated manuscripts who searched for the light of God. There is one great truth to be found in the large canvases: Gnosis. If one chooses a truth that is gradual instead - one turns to the accompaning small canvases containing a modicum of lesser truths or lesser lies depending whether you turn to your Blake volumes or Yeats volumes.

Painting is alchemical by nature, as complicated and possibly as rewarding. For Damian Loeb, the red lion attacks the white lamb repeatedly. He glances over the shoulder of John Dee and Keeley as they are working, snatching phrases, catching glimpses of angels and demons at play and nurturing them through hundreds of hours of physical labour. These paintings are knots that are neither anathemas nor admirations. The visual content is truly opaque as through a glass darkly. What we see never happened. Not on the screen. Not in our mind. We just think it did or (in a nod to Vermeer) wish it had.

The Tai-Chi says sleeping grasshopper. There are no photographs layered or even hinted at in the Max Ernst-esque manner of Damian Loeb's earlier work. It is film as the new hyper-reality, as transitional as the river of clear that the Tai-Chi mentions next. Cinematography following as the second highest art form since it will never truly attain the level of perfection that a painter can obtain by applying paint to a canvas.

— as translated by Johan Kugelberg 3/20/2001

Count Jan Potocki - The Manuscript Found In Saragossa (Viking, New York 1995)

Thomas Browne - Hydriotaphia or Urn Burial (Joseph Rickerby, London 1838)

John Symonds - The King of the Shadow Realm (Duckworth, London 1989)

W.G. Sebald - The Rings of Saturn (Panther, London 1999)

Georges Bataille - The Tears of Eros (City Lights, San Francisco 1989)

William Blake - Songs of Innocence and of Experience (The William Blake Trust, London 1991)

E.M. Cioran - A Brief History of Decay (Quartet Encounters, London 1991)