John Miller

February 25 – March 24, 1984

Exhibition Images

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519 West 24th Street
New York NY 10011
Telephone 212 206 7100
Fax 212 337 0070

JOHN MILLER, in his first exhibition at METRO PICTURES, presents some sixty small acrylic paintings and a large number of pencil and ink drawings. The paintings and drawings are simply depicted imaginary scenes that comprise a relatively complex lexicon of variously familiar events or situations. The paintings are of such subjects as a Ku Klux Klan rally, an isolated nuclear plant, sunflowers growing in a city lot, a violinist in a concert hall, a rural bicycle ride, a bunker with guns, Moses receiving the Commandments and a town square with an approaching tornado. They are executed in a straightforward realist fashion reminiscent of American social realism of the 20's and 30's, the Ash Can School, or story illustration. The drawings are more stylistically diverse, ranging from carefully rendered pencil illustrations of Victorian houses to sketchy notations depicting the landing of flying saucers to thin black lines or cartoons.

Miller has said of his work: "... I intend my work to be genuinely attractive and consider it sincerely rather than from a knowing in-joke standpoint. It's really my best effort and not supposed to be a demonstration of 'aesthetic sophistication' over popular values ... It's hard to reconcile a sense of poetry over technique ... I am trying to respond to the complexity of surface issues. That means rejecting superiority or deep or transcendent meanings." (quoted from catalogue of group exhibition, Hallwalls, Sept. 1983)

John Russel, in his N.Y. Times review of Miller's exhibition at Artists Space in 1982, wrote... "[the drawings] form in effect, a visual diary in which every entry has something different to tell us... Mr. Miller has a sense of parody, a sense of wonder and a remarkably nimble way with pencil and paper."

John Miller lives in New York City, where his work has been seen at Artists Space, the Kitchen, White Columns and in Buffalo at Hallwalls. Miller grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, studied at the Rhode Island School of Design, California Institute of the Arts and the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program. His books Contamination, Cinematic Moments and Text are prose pieces written and published by Miller within the context of his art. His writing has appeared in Real Life magazine and Cave Canem, an anthology of artist/writers published by Miller.

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