You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot keep spring from coming.
- Pablo Neruda
Beginning June 11th, Hexton Gallery will present Out of the Blue, an exhibition of new and earlier paintings by renowned New York-based artist, Michael De Feo. The exhibition will include a special collaboration with luxury ski apparel brand, Authier, which pairs De Feo’s now-iconic fashion photography takeovers, with the brand’s print campaign.
On view through July 6th, Out of the Blue, will inaugurate Hexton Gallery’s new Aspen exhibition space, located at 447 E Cooper Avenue, in the heart of downtown Aspen. Expressing the recent challenges and tumultuous unpredictability of our collective previous year, Out of the Blue also symbolizes a sense of hope and rebirth as we head towards a brighter future.
At the forefront of the early 1990s street-art movement in New York City, De Feo’s spray-painted and wheatpasted flowers quickly earned him the moniker, “The Flower Guy”. For nearly thirty years, Michael has planted his flowers in numerous cities around the globe, cementing his status as a guerilla gardener.
Over the past decade, De Feo’s flower street art project evolved and transcended into his studio practice with the influence of flowers and their meaning becoming his primary vehicle for exploration. Michael has continuously developed various bodies of work that speak to the inherent allure of the natural world in its ritualistic expression through the creation of flower-inspired paintings as a symbol of beauty, ephemerality, and the cycle of life. De Feo moves seamlessly through the worlds of contemporary art, street art and appropriation as he investigates these ideas.
In 2015 the artist was gifted a key that provides access to the advertising vitrines in New York City’s bus-stop shelters. De Feo removed the fashion advertisements located inside, painted over them with his iconic flora and fauna, and then reinstalled them in the street-level glass cases. Soon after, De Feo continued the project onto the pages of fashion magazines. Both these large and small format works highlight his characteristic style of painted cascades of multicolored petals, frequently resulting in images that seem to have been originally designed that way, thus blurring the line between fashion advertising and fine art. They are both at once subversive and harmonious to the underlying images.
In 2020 as the pandemic impacted his ability to work in his NYC studio, De Feo began to work in a smaller format on his dining room table at home. Employing a Polaroid camera given to him in support of a fundraiser for The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, he created a series of small paintings atop his own photographs of flowers. A new direction and body of work was born. Building upon this concept for Out of the Blue, De Feo enlarged his photographs onto canvas, giving him a broader format to explore and intervene within his own photography. This exhibition at Hexton Gallery is the first time De Feo’s large-format Polaroid paintings are being exhibited.
The contrast between the printed image and paint creates a dialogue that speaks to how we consume images and media. De Feo’s takeover works engulf fashion’s predominantly outward projection with organic floral motifs, suggesting an inner vibrance that turns the spotlight onto our own natural beauty and perhaps offers more questions than answers.
De Feo’s studio is located on the Upper East Side in NYC.
Out of the Blue
June 11 – July 6, 2021
Book Signing and Exhibition Preview:
Thursday, July 1, 3:00 - 5:00 pm
Performance Ski Aspen
614 E Durant Avenue, Aspen, CO
Friday, July 2, 5:00 - 8:00 pm (Artist remarks at 6:30)
447 E Cooper Street Mall, Aspen, CO
+1 (970) 925-1616