Wrong’s What I Do Best

Wrong’s What I Do Best

San Francisco Art Institute

Ashley Bickerton, MV2 (detail), 2013. Aluminum, oil, acrylic paint, hair, and cement, 83 x 28 x 25 inches. Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong.

April 8, 2014

Wrong’s What I Do Best
April 24–July 26, 2014

Opening: Saturday, April 26, 7–10pm

Walter and McBean Galleries
800 Chestnut Street
San Francisco, CA 94133
Hours: Tuesday 11am–7pm,
Wednesday–Saturday 11am–6pm



“I like things to be seven kinds of wrong. If they are seven kinds of wrong, sometimes the wrongs neutralize themselves, and the whole thing becomes…”
–Ashley Bickerton

Artists: Tanyth Berkeley, Ashley Bickerton, CLUB PAINT, Liz Cohen, Wim Delvoye, Samara Golden, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Brad Kahlhamer, Nikki S. Lee, Jonathan Meese, Laurel Nakadate, Dana Schutz, Aaron Storck, Marianne Vitale, and Kara Walker.

Curated by Hesse McGraw and Aaron Spangler.

Wrong’s What I Do Best gathers the self-searing impulses of artists and musicians playing the role of one’s self as someone else. Working against notions of both correctness and failure, Wrong’s What I Do Best revels in repeated derailments to present the work of artists who prod the edges of our world. Some unearth scorched histories or upset “natural” order, while others fling themselves headlong into the coming apocalypse. Collectively, their low-irony tilt toward social, political, and personal fault lines might be characterized by illicit unrestraint, yet their lack of critical judgment occludes the artists’ true selves.

The exhibition takes its title from what was originally a George Jones anthem, and later a catchall for a generation of Hard Country performers—Johnny Paycheck, David Allan Coe, and Hank Williams—who were known equally for their crafted stage personas and unhinged private lives. These sincerely deluded, tragicomic figures inhabited characters of their own making, to personal peril and kindling for public legend. As Johnny Cash said, quoting Roy Orbison to introduce David Allan Coe, “A diamond is a diamond, and a stone is a stone, but no man is all good or all bad.”

Like these performers, the artists in Wrong’s What I Do Best mine deep recesses to produce work that is both deeply authentic and highly constructed—blurring the lines between artist-person and artist-persona. In the torrid gap between these two poles, we are reminded that one shouldn’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.

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SFAI’s Exhibitions and Public Programs provide direct access to artists and ideas that advance our culture. The Walter and McBean Galleries, established in 1969, present exhibitions at the forefront of contemporary art practice. The gallery serves as a laboratory for innovative and adventurous projects and commissions new work from emerging and established artists. SFAI’s public programs develop meaningful interactions between artists, students, and audiences through lectures, education opportunities, and artist-driven experiences. Together, the exhibitions and public programs of the San Francisco Art Institute promote an environment that catalyzes the creative processes of its student artists and thinkers, and creates intimate connections between the SFAI community and the public.

SFAI’s Exhibitions and Public Programs are made possible by the generosity of donors and sponsors. Major support is provided by Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund.

Program support is provided by the Harker Fund of The San Francisco Foundation and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Ongoing support is provided by the McBean Distinguished Lecture and Residency Fund, The Buck Fund, and the Visiting Artists Fund of the SFAI Endowment.


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April 8, 2014

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