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Adler Beatty is pleased to present Reference Material at our 34 East 69th Street space. The show is curated by artist Brook Hsu, and features works by Jess Collins, Brook Hsu, Sedrick Chisom, Louis Eisner, Vinnie Smith and Cole Lu. 


To accompany the exhibition, Hsu has written the following essay:


Effects of catastrophe against material are ripples felt across generations. I question if there is reason to live without pain. And I gather myself in little pebbles, not all of which are round, but of course all are soft, round echoes. I don’t wake up thinking about Fat Man and Little Boy, but I’m certain that every cell in my body feels them detonate in daily reverberations. In the face of disaster, how do I (the painter) manage to collaborate with chaos and gravity?

At times, I’ve sensed the painter is held suspect when she fails to present herself as a pure being, that purity tarnished by either using projection, copying or mimicking anything at all. Such suspicions seem to be born from an array of misconceptions, primarily based on how one defines “the master” and “the genius”. One could accuse the painter of being derivative, under the belief that all of an artist’s acts need to be benevolent in order to be useful and transformative. This would assign the painter to the role of the thief, a plagiarist incapable of originality. But who wrote the law on art? And does the painter even care to abide by the laws of either lawman or thief? One of the benefits of being an artist is that one need not be ordained by anything except the grace of nature’s ambivalence.

It seems counterintuitive to the spiritual in art, but I don’t care to ask any painter to pull inspiration from the ether and exert divine power onto the physical world. To speak of a reference happily destroys this perception that any painter is an omnipotent force. I find there is real freedom within the acts of reference, pastiche, and appropriation, which the painter chooses to perform. To be among many gives both the painter and painting strength in their respective struggles to exist.

Painting connects us to the fabric of life: It is a formation of images that grants an uncompromising experience of material. A painter would be remiss to deny that every molecule of a painting is related to every molecule of every painting. Painting quotes itself within a quote within a quote within itself, these self-referential codes being read aloud by the artist’s intuition. If it is a continuity of reference, painting cries out every moment lived and embeds it in every work to come.

One could insist that learning of an artist’s reference material interferes with their personal experience. But if the inexplicable is real, then it’s possible that articulating everything within our ability can bring us closer to the mysterious. When experiencing painting, language is simultaneous and becomes synonymous with body, space and time. Every moment of a painting is becoming a word, open to understanding. I feel resonance when a painting is real, when something shifted is realigned into a new becoming. What makes one choose to do what they do remains, somewhat always, a mystery. How anything came to be anything is definitely a mystery. Knowing this, to me, means that knowing anything at all never diminishes the miracle that is existence, be it creative or absolutely destructive.


Brook Hsu (b. 1987) currently lives and works in New York. Recent solo exhibitions by Hsu have taken place at Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, Berlin (2021); Manual Arts, Los Angeles (2021); Et al., San Francisco (2019); Bortolami Gallery, New York (2019); Bahamas Biennale, Detroit (2018).

Group exhibitions with the artist have taken place at Hannah Hoffman Gallery, Los Angeles (2022); Derosia, New York (2022); Matthew Brown Gallery, Los Angeles (2022); Kaufmann Repetto, New York and Milan (2021); TANK, Shanghai (2020); CLEARING, New York (2020); Jan Kaps, Cologne (2020); The Renaissance Society, Chicago (2018-2019).

Forthcoming solo exhibitions this year will be in Hong Kong at Kiang Malingue Gallery and in Rome at Sant’Andrea De Scaphis.

Her work is part of the collections of X Museum, Beijing; Long Museum, Shanghai.


Cole Lu (b. 1984, Taipei, Taiwan) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. His work has been exhibited at Chapter Gallery, New York; Company Gallery, New York; Nir Altman, Munich; The Drawing Center, New York; Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis; La Casa Encendida, Madrid; The Pulitzer Arts Foundation, St. Louis; among others.

His writing has appeared in Coffee House Press, Minneapolis; WONDER, New York; and The Seventh Wave, New York.

His publication Smells Like Content (Endless Editions, 2015) is in the artists’ book collection of the Museum of Modern Art Library, New York.

Currently, he is working on two forthcoming books to be published by Wendy’s Subway and Inpatient Press and a solo exhibition this year at Nir Altman, Munich.


Jess,née Burgess Collins, (b.1923, Long Beach; d. 1994, San Francisco) worked as a chemist on the production of plutonium for the atomic bomb at the Manhattan Project, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee from 1943 until his discharge in 1946 from the Army Core of Engineers. After the war, he worked for the Hanford Engineering Works, the nation’s plutonium factory in Washington State.

In 1949, Jess quit his job, broke with his family, moved to San Francisco and enrolled in the California School of the Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute). He quickly became a key member of the 1950s Beat scene, along with his longtime partner, the poet Robert Duncan.

He is best known for his "paste-ups." These elaborate collages are composed of clippings from magazines, posters, prints, and illustrated books. Three works from his lesser known “translations” series are currently on view in the gallery. These works reproduce found images in oil paint. Jess made only thirty-two translations in total between 1959 and 1976.

Works by Jess are included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Whitney Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, The National Gallery of Art, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among others.


Louis Eisner (b. 1988, Los Angeles, CA) lives and works in New York City. He studied Art History at Columbia University. Recent solo exhibitions include Fitzpatrick Gallery, Paris (2022); Manual Arts, Los Angeles (2022); The Journal, New York (2021)

His work has been included in group exhibitions at: CLEARING, New York (2022); PAENA @ PRAXIS, Mexico City (2022); Fitzpatrick Gallery, Paris (2021); Blum & Poe, Los Angeles (2018); Almine Rech, New York (2018), Galeria La Esperanza, Mexico City (2016); Zabludowicz Collection, London (2015); Fondazione Museo Pino Pascali (2014).

He was a founding member of the artist-run organization Still House Group from 2010 to 2016.


Sedrick Chisom (b. 1989, Philadelphia, PA) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He received a full scholarship to study at Cooper Union, where he completed his BFA in 2016 and was awarded the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Foundation Award for Exceptional Ability. In 2018, he received his MFA from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University.

Recent solo exhibitions include Twenty Thousand Years of Fire and Snow, Pilar Corrias, London (2021); Westward Shrinking Hours, Condo, in collaboration with Pilar Corrias, London (2020); When the Night Air Stirs, Matthew Brown, Los Angeles (2019); The Final Excursion Into the Savage South, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ (2019); The Ghost of White Presidents Yet To Come, ADA Gallery, Richmond (2019); and You Just Gotta Look For It, Cooper Union, New York (2018).

His work has been displayed in numerous group exhibitions including Possédé·e·s, Montpellier Contemporain, France (2021); Great Force, curated by Amber Esseiva, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Richmond (2020); Cult of the Crimson Queen, Ceysson & Bénétière, New York (2019); Beside Myself, JTT Gallery, New York (2018); GDPR, Signal Gallery, New York (2018); and Leap Century, Abrons Art Center, New York (2018).

Chisom was awarded the 2018–2019 VCU Fountainhead Fellowship in Painting and Drawing at the Macedonia Institute and was a 2019 resident at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.

Forthcoming shows include “Door To The Atmosphere” at Frye, and a two person show with Katherine Bradford at Matthew Brown gallery. His work is currently on view in “The Black Fantastic” at Hayward Gallery, London.


Vinnie Smith (b. 1987, Van Nuys, CA) lives and works in New York, New Jersey, and Los Angeles. His work has been exhibited at HIT, San Francisco (2019); Commune, Tokyo (2017); Yale Union, Portland (2016); Ladybug House, San Francisco (2015);

Nam Gallery, Tokyo (2014); Rock 512 Devil, Baltimore (2014).

He’s a co-curator and collaborator with the Kesey Farm Project in Eugene, OR and was a co- organizer for Ladybug House in San Francisco, CA.

He has a forthcoming solo exhibition at Dream Child in Los Angeles.