Fishman’s bold, polychromatic, three dimensional, wall works are inspired by the many parallels that can be drawn between pharmaceuticals and art. An experience with art is comparable to taking a pill, a fleeting moment that has the ability to induce a response that runs deep within in one’s being. Fishman’s vivid geometric reliefs may not take on the overt physical appearance of pills, but are representative of how pharmaceutical companies utilize aesthetic appeal in their products to offer the promise of a better reality. Each optically alluring and carefully crafted shape stacked within her compositions is assigned an ailment, which is denoted in the titles of the works. As Fishman wrote in an essay for Cultural Politics, our contemporary world is one in which “drugs construct and contest our identities and ... the production and consumption of art can seem like an addiction.” Made of urethane paint on shaped wooden panels, the works are a continuation of a series the artist began in 2012. Derived from the forms of actual pills—split and then placed in clusters like a pharmaceutical “cocktail”— the three dimensional shapes of the works enter the viewer’s space and push the boundaries of traditional paintings, which is further emphasised by the interplay between the flat and glossy finishes as well as the interaction between the work and the wall behind it. By painting the edges in glistening fluorescent paint, the works emit a subtle glow on the wall, creating a solemn monument to the drugs which inspired the pieces. The immaculate and refined surfaces of the sleek painted panels further mimic the clean and precise surroundings and branding which have come to define the pharmaceutical industry. Fishman’s art invites the viewer to contemplate not only the ways in which pharmaceutical companies use aesthetics to market their products, but also how they can create, an artificial heightened state of being, both physically and metaphorically.
BEVERLY FISHMAN (b. 1955, Philadelphia, PA) received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1977 from Philadelphia College of Art, and her Master of Fine Arts degree in 1980 from Yale University. Recent solo exhibitions include Beverly Fishman, Miles McEnery Gallery, New York, NY; Chemical Sublime, Kavi Gupta Gallery, Chicago, IL; T.N.N., Kravets Wehby Gallery, New York, NY; DOSE (curated by Nick Cave), CUE Art Foundation, New York, New York; Another Day in Paradise, Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts, University of Alabama, Birmingham, AL; Pain Management, Library Street Collective, Detroit, Michigan; Big Pharma, Columbus College of Art & Design, Columbus, Ohio; Beverly Fishman: In Sickness and in Health, Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia; Living Networks, Wasserman Projects, Birmingham, Michigan; Focus: Beverly Fishman, Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, East Lansing, Michigan; Artificial Paradise, Wasserman Projects, Birmingham, Michigan; Pill Spill, Detroit Institute of Art, Detroit, Michigan; Galerie Richard, New York, New York; Pharmako, Galerie Richard, Paris, France; and Pill Spill, Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio. Her work is included in many public and private collections including Borusan Contemporary Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey; Chrysler Museum of Art , Norfolk, Virginia; Columbus Museum of Art , Columbus, Ohio; Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, Michigan; Hallmark Art Collection, Kansas City, Missouri; MacArthur Foundation Collection, Chicago, Illinois; Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, Kansas; Pizzuti Collection, Columbus, Ohio; Progressive Art Collection, Mayfield Village, Ohio; Queens College Art Collection, Queens, New York; Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio; United Nations Embassy in Istanbul, Turkey; United States Embassy, Burundi; United States Embassy, Mauritius; and University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor, Michigan. She is the recipient of many awards, including Anonymous Was A Woman Award; Hassam, Speicher, Betts, and Symons Purchase Award, American Academy of Arts and Letters; John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship; Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award; Artist Space Exhibition Grant; and NEA Fellowship Grant, among others. Beverly Fishman lives and works in Detroit, Michigan.