Studio Check: Eli Sudbrack
Modern Painters, June 2014
Assume Vivid Astro Focus knows how to throw a great party. Since 2001 the collective comprising New York–based Eli Sudbrack and Paris-based Christophe Hamaide-Pierson has created brightly colored multimedia installations around Happening-like events. Inspired by the disco era of sexual liberation and queer visibility, as well as the politically radical art gestures of the 1980s staged by the Guerrilla Girls and General idea, AVAF has virtually crafted their own subgenre of carnivalesque environment. In venues ranging from the former Deitch Projects’ beloved Art Parade to the São Paulo Biennial, their work includes recurring elements of neon light, striking graphics, masks, and transgender imagery. Sudbrack explains that they’ve celebrated the figure of the trans individual since the beginning of their collaboration “as a symbol of change and a fight against the status quo.”
Now AVAF is once again pushing boundaries—this time with their first gallery show featuring only paintings. “Adderall, Valium, Ativan, Focalin (cantilevering me)” is the collective’s debut at Suzanne Geiss Company (which occupies the former Deitch space on Grand Street in New York). During our visit to Sudbrack’s teeming Bushwick, Brooklyn, studio, the artist explained the many inspirations for his work. to use AVAF’s naming formula, the objects might best be described as awesome, vociferous, animated, and flamboyant.