Portrait of Thomas Stolperer by Jeff Gabel, 2004
|Education||Pratt Institute, Kansas State University|
|Known for||Drawing, literature, cartoon|
"Gladius Dei," 2007,
Gabel completed a BFA at Kansas State University in 1992, and an MFA at Pratt Institute in 1995. His first solo exhibition in New York City took place at Spencer Brownstone Gallery in 2001-02, and was called a "season highlight" by The New Yorker. He has more recently exhibited work in "Monanism", the inaugural exhibition at the Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart, Australia, a solo exhibition at Kim Kim Gallery in Seoul, Korea, and a solo exhibition at Spencer Brownstone Gallery in New York, NY. Gabel is currently represented by Spencer Brownstone Gallery in New York, NY.
Drawings with stories
Gabel's small pencil portraits of imaginary figures accompanied by short captions on Paris Bleedproof Paper For Pens, his primary medium and format for over a decade during the 90's and early 2000s, were retrospectively viewed as representative of the "dumb line" trend which became prevalent in the visual arts, drawing in particular.1 Since then, Gabel has been drawing on clay board and smooth-sanded gesso board, in addition to paper. His work now typically involves small-scale portraits or figures rendered from imagination, accompanied by scrawled captions, wholly or partially fictional, which often expand into drawn-out multi-clause or run-on sentences. The stories often begin with the phrase "Some fucker…" or a variation, like "Some fucking woman in her 40's…" "Some guy from the 1970s…" or simply "A fucker…"2 This caption style has become one of the more recognizable features identified with Gabel's work.
Gabel has also exhibited translations of different types of writing, primarily literature, into various formats (bound typed books with hand illustrations, audio books, etc.). His translated adaptation of the novella "Vierundzwanzig Stunden aus dem Leben einer Frau"(Twenty-four Hours in the Life of a Woman) by Stephan Zweig, rendered in pencil in large-scale comic book format, and his audio/visual translation/adaptation of "Gladius Dei" by Thomas Mann have been exhibited and reviewed repeatedly. In 2009, he created and performed a complete re-enactment in Facebook of the 1935 novel "Salwàre oder Die Magdalena von Bozen," by Carl Zuckmayer called The Moons Ride Over, after the novel's English translation title. His work also includes translations from Finnish and the Veps language. Gabel's translations typically attempt a relatively literal portrayal of the content, while largely ignoring editorial conventions and appropriateness of style and voice.
In addition to the small drawings and translations, Gabel is known for his site-specific drawings and stories on walls, usually in graphite. The images themselves tend to be awkward or inept, as Gabel employs no measurements or other preparation work, regardless of size. The stories which accompany the images on the walls or other surfaces typically develop as a drawing progresses, and are often suggested or driven by the physical spaces, and by conditions relating to the respective exhibitions, such as time limit, allotted space, exhibition content, travel logistics & problems, the artist's recent readings, etc. For the group exhibition "Off the Beaten Road" at A+D Gallery, Columbia College in Chicago in 2008, installed in conjunction with a display of Jack Kerouac’s manuscript scroll at the college, Gabel created "Lunatic" on the gallery wall during the opening reception in an attempt to translate, adapt, and illustrate a chapter of "Salwàre oder Die Magdalena von Bozen" while drinking numerous servings of alcohol. In two further adaptations of this book in 2013, the text formed the primary visual pattern for large wall drawings in solo exhibitions at Spencer Brownstone Gallery and Kim Kim Gallery, Seoul, Korea, titled "The Very Best of Firmin Graf Salawàr dej Striës," and "More of the Best of Firmin Graf Salawàr dej Striës," respectively. In a group exhibition in 2010 at Spencer Brownstone Gallery, Gabel likewise created "Märchen der 672. Nacht" and "Reitergeschichte", translations & adaptations of two short works by Hugo von Hofmannsthal with rough spare illustrations, using alcohol to deliberately influence the voice and aptitude of the writing. In "How to Read a Book" at Locust Projects in Miami, Gabel created "Steinbeck-Dostoyevsky-Beckett-Bernhard", an awkward large-scale portrait on the wall accompanied by a 3-page single-sentence caption, written in haste during his short stay on site, a long-spun thread running successively through one theme each from four novels that the artist had recently read simultaneously.