Forgotten Lore, the first solo exhibition of work by the queer artist, dandy, and stalwart of the New York art scene, Peter McGough, is on view now in the Goldwyn House, The Future Perfect’s Los Angeles gallery. Presenting two never before seen bodies of work from an artist who has dedicated his life to what he produces, yielding a result that is at once visually captivating and historically critical, Forgotten Lore represents a playful, subversive inquiry into the layered nature of queer identity and the life of an artist.
In this exhibition, the artist unveils a new series of paintings and sculptures in which he reclaims slurs and otherwise sinister utterances, and pens phrases that convey a poetics of disappointment buffered by mordant humor. With these works, McGough uses writing, narrative, and wordplay to explicitly depict his lived experience as an artist, gay man, and political being. Known for his frank depictions of queerness in the 1980s and 90s, McGough’s imagery engages with the expression of gender, celebrations of gay sensibility, desire, and camp in a way that still threatens to exasperate the keepers of ‘taste’ and artistic probity at museums, galleries, and universities.
The first of two series grounding the exhibition is McGough’s Spiderweb Paintings—nine oil paintings on canvas that take their starting point from a bucolic woodland meadow scene. The artist considers the “glistening spider webs of light gossamer” as being woven to catch prey by stunning it with a sting and wrapping it up to be feasted upon later. The prey, in this case, are the self-mythologizing truisms, assumptions, and mortal fears associated with the life of an artist. “Uh Oh,” says one painting portending, tongue-in-cheek, a mounting sense of indiscretions yet to come; phrases like “Forgotten Lore,” “A True Story Based On Lies,” and “Unconcerned But Not Indifferent” motion to the torrential undercurrents of meaning bubbling beneath. Finally, the paintings’ proclamations find a feverish crescendo with “Fucking Masterpiece”, “Bitchy Art Fag”, “I Have Seen The Future And I’m Not Going”.
These paintings are joined by a series of sculptures titled Faggot Bricks—fourteen bricks inscribed with the word “Faggot” in the celestine blues, carnation pinks, and Wildean typefaces of a ‘grand queen.’ In an act of defiance and resistance, the works reclaim a slur, and press it into the service of art.
Forgotten Lore is on view at the Goldwyn House through June 16, 2023.