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AiR Show 2021

Gallery Hours: Saturdays 12-4pm

August 14, 2021 – September 11, 2021

Show Catalog


Hsin-Yu Chen, Christopher Capriotti, and Frankie Modesto

AUTOMAT is pleased to present AiR 2021, a group exhibition featuring paintings, drawings, sculptures, and photographs by Hsin-Yu Chen, Christopher Capriotti, and Frankie Modesto, three artists who completed three-week or month-long residencies at AUTOMAT as part of the 319 AiR program while the building remained closed to the public during COVID-19. On view at AUTOMAT gallery from August 14 - September 11, 2021, the selected works exemplify the experimental approaches engaged by each artist working in isolation during a period of heightened anxiety, displacement, and safety concerns.

Whether utilizing chilly video stills, hazy “rephotographs”, or sensuous poured paint, these artists investigate questions of identity, sexuality, and perception; mining the fertile ground which exists between politics and pleasure, subjective perceptions and objective analysis, and the romanticized, mythologized narrative vs. cold, ordinary reality. These associations and dissociations become more painful, hopeful, and nostalgic set against the backdrop of the pandemic during which they were made, and the global upheaval against which these prismatic,reflective views are contrasted.


As a filmmaker and artist working across experimental, narrative and nonfiction film, I am primarily interested in the notion of subjectivity and perception in cinema, moving image and photography. In my work, I explore the process of signification, the transitional space of perception, and the pleasure of artifice. Recently I am interested in the construction of subjectivity through perspective in cinema. I investigate the complex relationship between seeing and being seen, and the desire to become a subject and being subject to. My work adopts a visceral and metaphysical approach while also borrowing from psychoanalysis and scientific research.


My work is rooted in ceremony, sexuality, materiality, control, submission, objecthood, myth, and the performative rituals of masculine identity; these I explore across a variety of media and practices, with an emphasis on installation. I research and utilize imagery and concepts from a myriad of sources (cinema, literature, the complicated lives of historic figures) and filter them through my own experiences. I continually explore my conceptual interests from different angles while still focusing on the work’s connections and functions within the greater boundaries of myth-making and deconstruction.

This work addresses and interrogates the shared masculine, ritual, mythological, and homoerotic imagery of Scandinavian black metal and American amateur rodeo through a video performance and sculptural installation. Both of these predominantly white, male, privileged subcultures are based around the romanticization and exploitation of similarly fictionalized histories.

Scandinavian black metal is mostly a middle class male subculture obsessed with returning to an idealized medieval era, one without inclusionary politics, and the perceived invasion of “outside” cultures; the method involves young men with long hair and makeup writing aggressive music, burning churches, and attacking people of color and queer individuals.

This “return” can also be applied to American cowboy culture, specifically the popular opinion of the West being “won” by brave white men. The rodeo glorifies masculinity and virility in the rider and the bull, and there are many who emulate the sport through homemade mechanical bulls. These are easily found on YouTube, and a number of them feature false or symbolic testicles.


For me, inspiration comes from my friends, loved ones, and the desire to archive my experiences and time with them. Like a diary, my paintings immortalize memories of friendship and intimacy. With a focus on the interpersonal relationships between figures, both humans and animals alike whisper, gossip, laugh, and perform, creating narratives of their own within my paintings.

Love is the driving force in my work. As my dreams and memories merge with the physical world, ordinary expressions of love are reimagined into a world of fantasy. The resulting stories are romanticised, dramatic, and look ahead with a desperate sense of optimism.

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