Lawrence Gipe: Frontier Defense Images of Surveillance


Edward Cella Art+Architecture (ECAA) is proud to announce an exhibition entitled, Lawrence Gipe: Frontier Defense, presenting a series of small-format, figurative drawings based on appropriated images from Cold War-era instructional films created by the Hungarian Ministry of Interior.  Gipe’s meticulously rendered drawings offer a timely critique of government sanctioned surveillance, suggesting haunting parallels between Soviet authoritarianism and the current day discussion of the appropriate use and limitations for surveillance and information-gathering activities by the American government.

The exhibition will include ten beautifully rendered, small-format graphite on paper drawings by Gipe that provide evidence of government manipulation and power. Gipe’s source images are gathered from still photographs of training films published by a website called, The Open Archives, which contains a small fraction of the flood of information currently released by the former Eastern Bloc country. The film created by the Ministry of Interior’s training Police Films Studio between 1958 and 1988, offer instructions for civilian informers on surveillance techniques and espionage. Interestingly, the website also includes transcripts of thousands of interrogations that function as a record of the perpetuation of Stalinist authoritarianism. 

Beginning his career in Los Angeles, Gipe’s paintings and drawings addresses the ideological themes of industrialization and progress.  Gipe’s style of painting reflects an interest in19th Century European Neoclassicism, early American painting, and Soviet-era realism as well as his contemporary peers including Barbara Kruger and Mark Tansey. Gipe often concerns himself with issues of propaganda by using ideologically framed, photographic sources ranging from mid-1930s Nazi, WPA, and Stalinist “Five-Year Plan” imagery to recent-day military recruiting and corporate web- based “motivational” materials.  Gipe’s work was recently featured in a solo exhibition at Alexander Gray gallery in New York City, as well as a mid-career survey organized by University Art Museum at Arizona State University.  His work is held in the collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Norton Museum of Art, Palm Beach, Florida and the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York.