NAP Artist on View: Alex Becerra, Brian Calvin, Shara Hughes

New American Paintings alumni, Alex Becerra (Pacific Coast #127 cover artist) Brian Calvin (Midwest #11), and Shara Hughes (South #58) were all featured in Cliche, organized with Bill Powers at Almine Rech Gallery. 



June 20 - July 28, 2018


For more information please visit:

Almine Rech Gallery 
39 East 78th Street, 2nd floor

New York, NY 10075
212 804 8496

Cliches are always already on the canvas, and if the painter is content to transform the cliche, to deform or mutilate it, to manipulate it in every possible way, this reaction is still too intellectual, too abstract: it allows the cliche to rise again from its ashes, it leaves the painter within the milieu of the cliche, or else gives him or her no other consolation than parody. 

- Gilles Deleuze 


The more probable the message, the less information it gives. Cliches, for example, are less illuminating than great poems. 

- Norbert Weiner 


Brian Calvin


acrylic on canvas

56 1/8 x 70 1/8 inches


photo courtesy of Almine Rech Gallery


Shara Hughes

One Last Step 


oil, acrylic and acrylic spray paint on canvas

69 x 61 inches

photo courtesy of Almine Rech Gallery


"We imagine love notes to be sweet. 

We expect graduation speeches to be inspirational. 

When a cliche subverts our expectations, these tropes become less familiar and acquire some measure of uniqueness. 

In French, the term derives from a printing technique to make reproductions, giving the entire enterprise a perfume of Walter Benjamin. 

Not quite onomatopoeia - they say the word cliche comes from the sound of the printing plate stamping down. 




More important than its auditory beginnings, how should we define cliche today? The betrayal of originality…. 

An overused motif…. 

Genericism as a byproduct of ubiquity…. 

I’ve heard the term or its stand-in breach conversations again and again. 

Mark Grotjahn talks about the foolishness of painting skulls after Basquiat. 

Cecily Brown confesses anxiety that The Raft of the Medusamight be too ridiculously famous to re-imagine in her own vernacular. 

Sam McKinniss goes the other direction, proclaiming that cliche is a cornerstone of his artistic practice and something to be celebrated. 

It’s also a funny free association game to play. 

If I say butterfly which artist is the first to come to mind? 

How about cowboy? 

A smiley face. 

Bumper stickers. 

Who owns the canoe? 

And is it truly owned or leased to buy? 

Joke paintings. 

The issue—in part—might be traced back to problems of hierarchy. 

Rewind to 17th century France, when the French Academy of Fine Arts compiled a list of pictorial categories by order of importance. 

History paintings held top ranking. 

Followed by portraitures. 

Then landscapes. 

And lastly genre paintings. 

These organizing principles assigning value to subject matter naturally conceived sub-sets. Even the very idea of a summer group show has become a form of cliche. 

So what better time to harvest “Cezanne’s Apple”—a snippet borrowed from Deleuze’s thoughts on cliche—than June through July. 

With this show, we hope to exploit the many facets of cliche: the self-portrait, the tribute painting, the nude, conceptual art. 

Any rampant fetishization that may read as a shortcut to meaning or popularity is fair game.”


- Bill Powers

Cliche, Almine Rech Gallery, New York, press release


Alex Becerra

Self Portrait with Hat


oil on canvas

20 x 16 inches

photo courtesy of Almine Rech Gallery



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