MAMOTH has opened Café Nervosa, Ted Gahl’s second solo exhibition with the gallery. Café Nervosa presents a selection of new works by the artist, exploring personal experiences of entrapment, anxiety, joy and longing.
Ruminating on these themes since the onset of the Covid-19 Pandemic, Gahl’s new body of work summons nostalgia for the uninhibited café society of the Parisian Belle Epoque, tempered with the encroaching anxieties of the 21st Century and TV sitcom escapism.
Gahl’s exhibition Café Nervosa takes its title from a coffee house in the American sitcom Frasier (1993–2004), where the show’s titular neurotic psychiatrist Frasier Crane meets up with his equally highly-strung brother Niles, to work through – or more usually wallow in – their many issues, both real and wholly imagined. To them at least, this establishment is a descendant of the celebrated European cafés where Modernity’s intellectual and artistic greats once gathered – think Landtmann in Vienna (frequented by Sigmund Freud, Thomas Mann and Gustav Mahler), or Les Deux Magots in Paris (whose patrons included Pablo Picasso, James Baldwin and Simone de Beauvoir). Frasier though, is set in 1990s Seattle, and the snobbish, pretentious and ultimately conservative Cranes are nobody’s idea of a pre-millennial avant-garde.
Perhaps what Gahl is signalling with his show’s title is that nostalgia, for all its inexorable romantic pull, can summon up nothing more than a lifeless facsimile of a disappeared world. The only vital energy that the sitcom’s coffee house really supplies is, as its name suggests, caffeine-fuelled jitters. We might note here that in 2023, almost two decades after Frasier’s final episode first aired, anxiety feels like a very contemporary state of mind. Text Tom Morton
Ted Gahl, Café Nervosa, – November 3rd, 2023, MAMOTH
About the artist
Ted Gahl (b. 1983) lives and works in New Haven, Connecticut. Gahl obtained his BFA from Pratt Institute in 2006 and MFA from Rhode Island School of Design in 2010. In 2022, he was a recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant. Recent solo exhibitions include: “Le Goon”, Harkawik, New York (2023); “She is my Clock”, MAMOTH, London, UK, (2022); “Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea”, Harkawik, Los Angeles, California, USA (2021); “March Pictures”, Halsey McKay, East Hampton, New York, USA, (2021); “Metro-North”, Massif Central, Brussels, BE, (2021); “Paintings”, Alexander Berggruen, New York, USA, (2020); “Suet Paintings/Smoker by Window”, Y2K group, New York, USA, (2020); “Zen Paintings”, Vicki, Newburgh, New York, USA, (2019); “Lamu”, Halsey McKay, East Hampton, New York, USA, (2019); “Towers:, Romer Young Gallery, San Francisco, CA, (2017); “Mind Reels”, Halsey McKay Gallery, New York, NY, (2017); “Beaumont Sur Mer”, Halsey McKay Gallery, East Hampton, NY, (2017); “Lights”, Towards Gallery, Toronto, ON, Canada (2017).
Recent group exhibitions include: “(Mostly) Women (Mostly) Abstract”, Eric Firestone, New York, NY, (2023); “2023 White Columns Benefit”, New York, NY, (2023); “The Shape of Time”, Alice Amati, London, (2023); “Body Full of Stars”, Ceysson & Bénétière, New York, NY, (2023); “Moon Juice”, Waldburger Wouters, Brussels, (2023); “Threshold”, 91 Allen, New York, (2023); “Ted Gahl/ Betty Kingseed”, Towards, Toronto, Canada, (2022); “The Glass Bead Game”, MAMOTH, London, UK, (2021); “Peinture en trois services”, Valentin, Paris, FRA, (2021); “dal segno”, Y2K group, New York, New York, USA, (2021); “Kindred Spirits”, Bjorn & Gundorph, Aarhus, DK, (2020); Drawing in Lockdown, S.M.A.K., Ghent, BE, (2020); “Summer Stock”, Craven Contemporary, Kent, CT, (2020); “Do You Like Worms?”, Gazebo, Newark, DE, (2020); “Woof of the Sun, Ethereal Gauze”, Halsey McKay, East Hampton, New York, USA, (2020); “Nostos”, Matthew Brown Gallery, Los Angeles, (2019); “Freddy’s World”, Fisher Parrish Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, (2019); “Wildernesses”, Peninsula Art Space, Brooklyn, NY, (2019); “ A Tinkling Sound”, curated by Bradford Kessler, Kunsthalle Wichita, Wichita, KS, (2019); “The Burn Show”, Safe Gallery at Folly Tree Arboretum, East Hampton, NY, (2019); “Ramblin’ Round”, Stonehouse Art Projects, Cortland, NY, (2019); “Highlight/The Highline”, organised by Paul Efstathiou, Hollis Taggart, New York, NY, (2019).