Overview

John Sparagana was born in 1958 in New York, and lives in Houston and New York. He received his M.F.A. from Stanford University in 1987. He is the Grace Christian Vietti Chair in Visual Arts and Chair of the Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts at Rice University. John Sparagana’s practice is based upon a work developed in series that have a lot to say about movement, as for instances how one series gives rise to a next one. At the core of his poetic since 2007 have been his sliced and mixed collages, based on a painstaking technique of his devising often deployed at a scale that places these works in dialogue with painting – whether those of his contemporaries or paintings from different phases of his own career. The sliced and mixed collages draw from sources as disparate as politically resonant magazine photojournalism; color comics in hues redolent of the mid-twentieth century; glossy, high-production images from fashion and advertising; canonical works of modernist paintings, and Sparagana’s own paintings and drawings. The collages typically utilize 1/8’’ strips of an enlarged source image; multiples of image are sliced vertically and then sequenced horizontally, follow by a second stage in which the stretched image is sliced horizontally and sequenced vertically. These gridded works possess their own distinctive kinds of movements, specifically retinal effects, of oscillation, vibration, transformation and so on. Sparagana’s publications include Sleeping Beauty: A One Artist Dictionary, with Mieke Bal, University of Chicago Press, 2008; Reading Revolutionaries, with Reto Geiser, Benteli, 2014; and Projectile, with Reto Geiser and David Grubbs, Drag City, 2021 (upcoming). On the occasion of Sparagana’s 2019 solo exhibition, Shatter, Corbett vs Dempsey published the monograph John Sparagana, covering five series completed between 2016-2019. His work has been shown internationally, most recently with exhibitions in Los Angeles, Berlin, Chicago, Houston, New York, and Zürich, and is included in the collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Lose Angeles, CA, USA; Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, USA; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, IL, USA; and Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO among others.

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