Chuckles, 2014, Glitter and bead drawings with multicolor sterling silver leaf on handmade paper in gold frame, 27 x 35 inches. Photo: Natalie Fleming.
Fancy Pants, 2014, Glitter and bead drawings with multicolor sterling silver leaf on handmade paper in gold frame, 27 x 35 inches. Photo: Natalie Fleming.
Paintings that dazzle with glitter, Christopher Tanner’s Chuckles and Fancy Pants are visually seductive and aesthetically playful—at least on the surface. During the 80s and 90s, Tanner was living and working in New York City’s East Village, a community hard hit by HIV/AIDS. This history is very much a part of Tanner’s Clown Virus series—to which Chuckles and Fancy Pants belong—and this series responds retroactively to his experience during, through, and within the AIDS epidemic. Rather than just memorializing loss with melancholic elegy, as might be expected, these works sparkle with resistance. Carnival-esque and playful, they give us a moment to feel something else amidst so much devastation.
Christopher Tanner (b. 1955) has been living and creating visual and performance art in the East Village of NYC since 1979. He is a bit of a magpie collecting shiny, sparkling jewelry, glitter, gold leaf, crystals, beads, special personal ephemera, etc., that he puts together to make a historical story of a gay man living in NYC before the AIDS crisis, all through it, and on and on. Tanner’s work in Ill at Ease is from his Clown Virus series. Tanner is also a performance artist and has created many plays in NYC at LaMama, Dixon Place and the Kitchen.
Tanner’s recent solo exhibitions include Eye of the Heart at La MaMa Galleria in 2015, Treasure Smart Clothes Gallery in 2013, The Queen of Hell & the Horn of Plenty at Pavel Zoubok Gallery in 2010, all in NYC, and Give Me the Cobra Jewel at Atrium Gallery in St. Louis, 2008.