A LANDSCAPE THAT I KNOW
NOVEMBER 29 – JANUARY 13, 2019
FIERMAN presents A Landscape that I know, the debut New York solo show of Kentucky based artist Aaron Skolnick. The exhibition is comprised of intimate graphite on paper self-portraits and portraits of Skolnick’s late husband, the artist Louis Zoeller Bickett, who died from ALS in 2017, all drawn in the final month of Bickett’s life.
In Skolnick’s words :
About a month before Louis died he asked me to start drawing him, so I did. He told me it would help me process what was happening at the time. Each drawing probably took about a minute to do, the more abstract they get the closer to Louis' death we got - it was just harder for me to sit still.
I started to think a lot about the landscape of the body as I was drawing him. With the body as landscape, I started thinking about when I first moved in with Louis and we would take afternoon breaks to cuddle in bed, I remember rubbing his chest and stomach, rubbing his thighs memorizing each indentation and body part and realizing that we shared this landscape - our bodies. While drawing Louis I thought about how his being sick changed our roles and how it changed how I knew Louis’ landscape. Now when I touched him it was to take care of him, to wipe his ass, give him a bath in bed, to feed him and keep him clean and warm. Outside of those duties my only contact was with Louis’ head; he could still talk normally until the last three days. Drawing Louis the last month was the one way I still had this connection to our past as nurses, family, and friends kept coming in and out to help. While drawing Louis we talked about what was going on; we were very frank with each other and I told him I had no idea what was going to become of me. I thought I was going to go to sleep and die and I told him that - he would just laugh and tell me I was his "ARI boy" and that he was proud of the man I had become - his biggest regret was that he wasn't going to see me turn 40. One of the last days he could speak he pulled me aside and asked me to draw him after he died. I wasn't shocked or scared; it seemed right - this final act and intimate moment between us, the most intimate. I remember the yellow ochre light, the way his skin had sweat on it, I kept expecting him to breathe again - instead there I was with tears in my eyes recording the frail silhouette of the one person I loved most.
Aaron Skolnick (b. 1989, Erlander, Kentucky) has had solo shows at Institute 193, Lexington, and Land of Tomorrow Gallery, Lexington. His work has been in group shows at the University of Kentucky Art Musuem, Lexington; Berry Campbell Gallery, NY; New Hampshire Institute of Art, Peterborough; Louis B. James, NY; among others. Work from A Landscape that I Know will be included in the 2019 Atlanta Biennial curated by Philip March Jones and Daniel Fuller. A monograph accompanying A Landscape that I Know featuring The Death Haiku poetry sequence by Louis Zoeller Bickett will be produced by The King Library Press, University of Kentucky at Lexington, available for purchase through the gallery for $25 after December 15, with a launch in January 2019.