PAUL LAFFOLEY  

The Life and Death of Elvis Presley: A Suite

July 3 – September 6, 2014

Carl Solway Gallery presents The Life and Death of Elvis Presley: A Suite, by Paul Laffoley.  The series of eight complex paintings was begun in 1988 and completed in 1995.  They have remained in storage since 1996 and are being shown publicly for the first time.  Each painting is 55 x 35 inches and represents Paul Laffoley’s interpretation of eight phases in the life of Elvis Presley.  Each canvas is outfitted with a brass rod and a set of velvet drapes that can conceal or reveal Presley’s image. Six densely layered, vertical paintings follow the general format of a calendar, with a portrait of the singer at the top and Laffoley’s characteristic references to astrology, numerology and other arcane ordering systems forming the lower third.  At the bottom of each is a filmstrip-like row of images based on well-known photographs taken throughout Presley’s life.  The first and eighth paintings combine words and images diagramming the processes of his birth and death. Paul Laffoley is often referred to as a visionary artist who merges his interests in philosophy, literature, science fiction, architecture and spirituality within the practice of painting.  For more than 40 years, his work has defied art historical categories in creating a visionary interpretation of the complex world in which we live.  From 1966 to the present, his work has been included in over 200 exhibitions.  Exhibitions from 2013 alone include The Boston Visionary Cell (1971) shown at Kent Fine Art in New York City, Paul Laffoley: Premonitions of the Bauharoque at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle and The Alternative Guide to the Universe, a group exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in London that traveled to the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.  His work has been exhibited internationally including major shows at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris in 2009 and the Hamburger Bahnhoff in Berlin in 2011.Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1940, Laffoley studied the classics at Brown University and architecture at Harvard University.  He moved to New York City in 1963 to work as a studio assistant to the visionary artist and architect Frederick Kiesler and was recruited to watch late-night TV for Andy Warhol.   He worked with the architectural firm of Emery Roth & Sons on floors 15-45 of the World Trade Center Towers.  By the mid-1960s he returned to the Boston-Cambridge area to focus his energy on painting.  In combining diagrams, journal entries and spiritual or theoretical explorations, he often incorporated the format of the mandala.  His studio became known as the Boston Visionary Cell and, in 1971, it was formally incorporated as a non-profit arts organization encouraging visionary art and architecture.  Never an artist to limit his horizons, Laffoley became a registered architect at the age of 50.  After the destruction of the World Trade Center in 2001, he was one of many architects to submit design proposals for the Freedom Tower.   He proposed a huge hotel in the style of Antonio Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona. 

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The Origin of Elvis  (280 Days of Gestation and the Entering the Birth Canal, to Twin Birth) The Origin of Elvis - Detail Son of Sattnin  (Jan 8, 1935 to Jan 7, 1942: The First Song of the Cells) Son of Sattnin - Detail
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Captain Marvel the Third  (Jan 8, 1942 to Jan 7, 1949: The Second Song of the Cells) Captain Marvel the Third - Detail Frankenpelvis   (Jan 8, 1949 to Jan 7, 1956: The Third Song of the Cells) Frankenpelvis - Detail
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The Prime Elvis (Jan 8, 1956 to Jan 7, 1963: The Fourth Song of the Cells) The Prime Elvis - Detail The Comeback Kid (Jan 8, 1963 to Jan 7, 1970: The Fifth Song of the Cells) The Comeback Kid  - Detail
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The Remains of The Voice (Jan 8, 1970 to Jan 7, 1977: The Sixth Song of the Cells) The Remains of The Voice - Detail Destination of Elvis.  (Jan 8, 1976: Begins the Death Recession) Destination of Elvis. - Detail