Didactic Sunsets


February 21 - March 28, 2020
Opening Reception: Friday February 21, 6 - 8 PM

Scott Reeder is the Midwestern Magritte. In Didactic Sunsets, his first show at Canada, Reeder frequently offers multiple versions of the same painting. Through repetition he takes the unique aura out of painting, flattening and normalizing his odd and questionable scenes. By decoding visual language and social relationships in his trademark deadpan style, Reeder exposes the absurdity of life. The drive to cover uncomfortable terrain is the bread and butter of his work—in some cases literally.

Known for his feature-length, improvised sci-fi film (Moon Dust), his possibly ironic art fairs (the Milwaukee International and Dark Fair), and his parodies of process painting, Reeder has cut the figure of a truth-telling trickster in contemporary art. In Didactic Sunsets, he returns to his roots by making mysterious “instructional” paintings. Recurring motifs include sad flowers in interior spaces and a notoriously voyeuristic banana who seems to get a kick out of looking at other fruit in bed. The paintings all seem transgressive and at the same time spotlessly clean. What are you bringing to the picture? Reeder might be asking his audience. Reeder plays with the human desire to project emotional affect and sensation onto inanimate objects. By convincing us that an ice cream cone can feel regret or ennui while staring out a penthouse window, he makes us an accomplice in his jokes.

Didactic Sunsets also features an installation of colorful glazed ceramic sculptures of maligned and overlooked crapola from daily life. Thumb drives, a thong, cigarette butts, a flip phone, potato chips and a potted plant occupy the gallery in a tweaked simulacrum. The flat-footed execution is reminiscent of Reeder’s paintings; they will never actually trompe anyone’s l’oeil. That isn’t the point; rather the imagery manages to evince a sense of recognition and near wonder at the most banal objects. Reeder’s huge output of copies at first appears to be mischievous fun, but slowly they start resonating with and mirroring our disposable culture. What at first seems so playful gradually pressurizes our position as viewers, as we enter a world of multiples without originals. Gradually we slip from the mooring of the real and drift to stranger lands.

Scott Reeder (b. 1970, Battle Creek, MI) is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Detroit, Michigan. Solo and two-person exhibitions include: Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI; Gavin Brown's Enterprise, New York, NY; 356 Mission, Los Angeles, CA; Marlborough, New York, NY; Lisa Cooley, New York, NY; Kavi Gupta, Chicago, IL and Berlin, Germany; Luce Gallery, Torino, Italy; Reyes Projects, Detroit, MI; Daniel Reich Gallery, New York, NY; Jack Hanley, San Francisco, CA; among others. His film Moon Dust has screened at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati; CineMarfa Film Festival, Marfa; Anthology Film Archives, New York. A book on Reeder's work titled, Ideas (cont.) was published by Mousse in 2019.