Sandow Birk: The Depravities of War
An exhibition of paintings and fifteen monumental woodcut prints published by HuiPress, Hawaii
November 8 - December 16, 2007
Gallery talk with Sandow Birk: Thursday, November 8, 5 pm
Reception & Book signing: November 8, 6-8 pm

The University Art Museum, California State University, Long Beach

1250 Bellflower Boulevard
(located in the Steve & Nini Horn Center), Long Beach, CA 90840
Director: Chris Scoates
Contact: Sarah G. Vinci, Public Relations Director, (562) 985-4299 /
562.985.5761, Fax 562.985.7602
Web site,
Gallery Hours,  Tuesday - Sunday, 12-5pm; Thursday, 12-8pm

Sandow Birk, “Invasion”, 2007, woodblock print on paper, 48 x 96”.

Just as Francisco Goya drew on the prints of the French printmaker Jacques Callot (1592-1635) for inspiration, Sandow Birk now draws on Callot to create a series of prints commenting on the debaucheries of warfare in our times. Using Callot’s Miseries and Misfortunes of War as a starting point and casting their epic compositions in both America and in the ravaged landscape of Iraq, Birk’s prints depict the course of war and its aftereffects. Scaled up and utilizing the woodcut printmaking process to full graphic effect, the images are at once familiar and contemporary, while recognizable as drawing from traditions of art history. The project consists of 15 monumental woodcut prints, each measuring 48” x 96”. Printed in collaboration with master printer Paul Mullowney of HuiPress in Makawao, Hawaii, and using traditional woodblock printing techniques on Japanese paper, the images follow the course of an unnamed, but recognizable war – from the recruiting and training of troops to the invasion of Iraq and its aftermath. Images depict the attacks on the mosque in Fallouja, the torturing of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison, and insurgent bombings of vehicles along Baghdad’s notorious Airport Road. As in current events, the initial invasion soon degenerates into guerilla warfare and chaos, popular uprisings, scenes of abuse, and eventually to the returning of wounded veterans and would-be celebrations of heroism. Like his predecessors, Birk’s prints draw on art history and current events in a polemical series that critiques the eternal and universally senseless practice of war and military injustice.

“Birk is pursuing one of the most fascinating, unpredictable careers in Los Angeles art.”
– New Times Los Angeles

Sandow Birk is a Los Angeles artist well known for his adaptation of historical art as the basis for works that comment on social and political issues of contemporary America. The exhibition includes recent paintings by Birk related to the series; and an original suite of 18 copperplate etchings of Jacques Callot’s Les Grandes Misères de la Guerre (Miseries and Misfortunes of War), each 3-1/3” x 7-1/2” printed in 1633 on loan from the UCLA Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles.

Raised on the beaches of California and currently living and working in Long Beach/Los Angeles County, Sandow Birk is well traveled and a graduate of the Otis/Parson’s Art Institute. A winner of the J. Paul Getty Fellowship for Visual Arts, a Fulbright Scholarship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, Birk’s work has been exhibited internationally, and has been featured in recent years at the San Diego Museum of Art, the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, (SUNY/New Paltz, NY), Katzen Art Center (Washington, D.C.), the San Jose Museum of Art, and the Laguna Art Museum (Laguna Beach). He has been featured in Harper’s Magazine, The New York Times, London Guardian, ArtNews, Wall Street Journal, Details, Rolling Stone, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and on National Public Radio.

Art critic Ray Zone notes, “Birk’s drawings are somber, filled with a dark somnolence. But there is great wit in small details and, as with all of Birk’s oeuvre, a fine and dry satire quietly evident. For over a decade, Birk has revisited historical genres and come up with satirical contemporary turns on age-old human foibles. In Birk’s busy and capable hands, everything old is new again and it all takes place in a postapocalyptic California littered with the remains of popular culture. Whether he’s ridiculing fascism with his Prisonation series or aping bellicosity with his Historical Works on the Great War of the Californias, Birk is Southern California’s preeminent artist of dystopia,”
– (2003)

This exhibition is made possible by the Instructionally Related Activities Fund, COTA Cultural Diversity Fund, Constance W. Glenn Fund for Exhibition and Education Programs, Institute of Museum and Library Services, Arts Council for Long Beach, and the Bess Hodges Foundation.

Also on view in the Galleries:
In the Louise Carlson Gallery:
Jacques Callot: Les Grandes Misères de la Guerre (Miseries and Misfortunes of War)
In the Wesley G. Hampton Gallery:
Border Myths/Border Realities
An exhibition that explores several perspectives on the concept of the "border" with artists: Rheim Alkadhi, Abdelali Dahrouch, Gronk, Ruben Ortiz-Torres, Eddo Stern, and Whitney Stolich. UAM @ noon, Nov. 13, 12:15-1 PM, Gallery talk with artist Rheim Alkadhi.

Special Events:
November 8, 5pm: Members Preview, Gallery talk and book signing with Sandow Birk
Sandow Birk: The Depravities of War, published by HuiPress, Makawao, Hawaii and Grand Central Press, Grand Central Art Center, California State University, Fullerton
November 13 UAM@noon: Gallery talk with Border Myths/Border Realities artist Rheim Alkadhi

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