FIFTY24SF Gallery presents “Over Normal”- a solo exhibition by Stanley Donwood and his first ever showing in the United States.
When thinking of iconic imagery in music from the last 20 years, Stanley Donwood’s work with Radiohead invariably comes to mind – and for good reason. Where Radiohead’s music stretched the auditory horizons and painted musical sceneries of mans place in the modern world, Donwood’s imagery and packaging forced us to face the gravity of the music from the minute the album hit our hands; and by creating cryptic, academic and (at times) dystopian layouts, the albums themselves became as striking and relevant as the music they contained.
Although Stanley Donwood generally avoids the grandeur of media and would prefer to be undersold, to speak only in terms of his work with Radiohead that has earned him two Grammy’s would be a disservice. From his exhibitions of intricate etchings at Lazarides Gallery in London, to the vibrant works that made up his show at Iguapop Gallery in Barcelona, Donwood’s gallery work has consistently mixed personal and political emotions with modesty and humor.
For “Over Normal”, the catalyst for the large works featured in the show is in Los Angeles, where Stanley began to notice (with equal parts amazement and distress) that the advertisements bombarding him on the multilane highways were made of seven basic colors, immediately grabbing viewers’ attention in a primal way. More recently, Stanley noticed a parallel between the use of those colors and an influx of spam emails that promised everything from more fruitful sex lives, to cheap foreclosed properties at the expense of someone else’s misery. The word’s that were used in the emails were formatted in the same fundamental way as color in the advertisement’s had been used: to grab unconscious attention and tell a story without the viewer knowing it. Marrying the immediate words used in these emails with the attractive and distressing colors of the advertisements, Stanley has produced a line of seven vibrant, original pieces for this exhibition.
Stanley has also produced a 12 page newspaper to accompany the show, this explains how he came about putting together a neuron firing sound installation in an artificial neural network which is also featured in the show and is entitled ‘The Overnormaliser’.