David Noonan they became what they beheld 10 September 2004 - 16 October 2004
David Noonan, Untitled, 2004 (detail.)
David Noonan, 2004, installtion view, Foxy Production, New York

Foxy Production announces ‘they became what they beheld’, DAVID NOONAN’s second New York solo exhibition. Featuring a series of fabric paintings, works on paper and a new film, Noonan produces an almost supernatural environment that both displaces and potently engages with a sense of shared history. Noonan’s new works appear to be inspired by the 1970’s mix of Modernist design, borrowings from the past, and the period‚s fascination with the Orient. He reflects the era’s motifs, aspirations and follies through an uncanny, disquieting lense.

“David Noonan’s recent paintings retrospectively capture the transitional mood of this period in their tenebrous representation of various phenomena reminiscent of the particular period. He combines such divergent cultural motifs as European villas, young people in elaborately designed tunics, and Indonesian shadow puppets that suggest a host of possible narratives that viewers must create themselves.”

— Dominic Molon, Pamela Alper Associate Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, from his catalogue essay accompanying the exhibition.

Noonan paints with bleach on black canvas to extraordinary effect. By extracting rather than applying pigment, he produces images including towering trees, a pheasant, a kimono‚s patterning – with a remarkable tonal range and an almost photographic depth of field. The individual works taken together seem to suggest troubling, almost cinematic narratives. In the exhibition‚s centerpiece, a young man and woman clad in highly patterned tunics form a yin-yang shape; while in other works they appear in moody ethereal interiors alone or together. Are we revisiting a long-extinguished romance, or witnessing a vibrant contemporary one? Dark, haunting external point of view images of the Swiss painter Balthus‚ villa suggest ominous events within. Owl (2004), Noonan’s new film, observes these nocturnal creatures, expressing their timeless associations with wisdom, death and chance.