Beverly Fishman’s overarching subject is how technology affects the body: representing, supplementing, idealizing, stereotyping and changing us. Throughout her career she has explored abstraction though materiality and raised questions regarding the transformation of human beings through science and technology—developing a hybrid art-making process that integrates subjective color choices and gesture with mass reproduction and industrial fabrication.
Her most recent series, polychrome reliefs painted with urethane automobile colors, will be the subject of the exhibition Big Pharma. Ranging from twenty-five inches to more than seven feet in size, the paintings are inspired by Fishman’s research into the use of design strategies by pharmaceutical companies, generic manufacturers, and purveyors of illegal drugs. Both corporate and street chemical “pushers” develop specific iconographies to create lifestyle-driven products, branded to target audiences’ tastes, desires, beliefs, and ideals.
Through this collection of urethane paintings, Fishman explores our contemporary global condition, in which drugs construct and contest identity. The work employs scale shifts and chromatic juxtapositions to turn tiny commodities into large signs and corporate logos that promise health, beauty, pleasure, and the transcendence of death. Created through a combination of industrial and hand-based practices, their reflective surfaces, physical presence, and phenomenological impact make these works socially critical. They emphasize our pervasive medical condition that extends from the physical to the virtual and from the personal to the political.