Casualties of Modern Life (Figures Effaced in Various Iterations)


OPENING: April 27th, 2017, 7–9pm
DURATION: April 28th – June 1st, 2017


Press release (PDF)


ROCKELMANN& is proud to present the two-man show Less and Less Human: Casualties of Modern Life (Figures Effaced in Various Iterations) in collaboration with Stuart & Co. Gallery.  The exhibition brings together the work of two eclectic artists, American painter David Derish and Chinese multi-media artist Tian Jiang.

The title of the show is inspired by a Wallace Stevens poem, Less and Less Human, O Savage Spirit, reflecting upon humankind’s relationship to nature and purpose. From two varying perspectives and mediums, each artist addresses the struggle of the individual in a world of shifting social structures, objectification, and subversion of identity by the forces of modern life. Derish’s figurative paintings are faceless, embodiments of primal energies stripped of their individuality. The various attempts at expression allude to the instability and uncertainty of the individual in contemporary society. Jiang’s inspiration comes from both her cultural background and her own personal experiences as an international student studying far from home.  Drawing out the issues of transcultural identity, belonging, and stark cultural differences between east and west, her work seeks to take a closer look at the cracks in migratory bureaucracy.

In regards to art practice, painting is often viewed as the most reliable medium in the art market today. Derish and Jiang use conflicting mediums to create strong color compositions, but intersect strongly in regards to subject; both work within the confines of identity. Tian’s work integrates the usage of found objects, which once they are sourced are transformed into sculptures representing supermarket products. In our society everything is readily available and we have become accustomed to the instant gratification of the culture of supply and demand. By presenting a work about identity and borders as one of these supermarket product allows the viewer to question the perceived value and the intended purpose of the object they are seeing. By contrast, Derish chooses to work with the classical medium of oil on canvas but unlike the classical masters his usage of non-humanoid and non-identifiable figures leave viewers questioning the greater meaning under the surface.

David Derish is an American painter and artist from New York City. He completed a BFA in Visual Arts and Art History at Columbia University in 2009 and an MFA in Painting and Drawing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2014.

A recipient of numerous fellowships, grants, and awards, Derish has also studied in Tuscany, the Netherlands, Vermont, Cornell University, Pratt Institute, and Yale University. At this point in his career Derish no longer thinks about why he creates art, only how, since it is tightly integrated into his daily life and merely an extension of his experiences. He currently lives and works in New York.

Tian Jiang is an artist and graphic designer from Beijing, China. After receiving her BA from the China Central Academy of Fine Art in 2012, Jiang moved to Chicago to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she completed her MFA in 2015.

Her interest in new media and technology has led Jiang to work in a cross-disciplinary manner utilizing aspects of graphic design, photography, video installations, and performance art to delve into topics of urban modernization, censorship, social networks, and the effects of changing environments on the human experience. Jiang currently lives and works in Beijing.

We cordially invite you to join us for the opening of this new exhibition, with a reception taking place on April 27, 2017 at 7pm.