Philip Monaghan's work is a moment of pop culture nirvana rendered with cloudy, dream-like abandon -- a chillingly apt look in the rearview mirror of entertainment history. The exhibition is the final chapter in a collaborative effort between Monaghan and the poet Tim Dlugos, his boyfriend who died of AIDS in 1990. Based on Dlugos' poem "Gilligan's Island," much of the focus of Monaghan's work in this show is on the farcical hit '70s show, revolving around the absurd hijinks of the mixed bag of castaways stranded on a desert island, but oftentimes juxtaposed with other classic images, ranging from Hitchcock's The Birds to iconic images of Jacqueline Kennedy. But through Monaghan's eye, there is a sentimentality and faded optimism in the kitsch, a tinge of faded glamor to Ginger's carnal persona and a hypersexualization of the male relationships on the island.
Monaghan started his career as a retail creative director for the infamous boutique Fiorucci, and was responsible for some its more outlandish window displays, including some in collaboration with Andy Warhol but now he's best known for his oil paintings and watercolors. The 54-work exhibition -- titled "At Moments Like These He Feels Farthest Away" -- currently taking place at NYU's Fales Library through the end of this week, strikes an interesting tension between the seemingly mindless flippancy of television's "golden era" and the great fears and doubts there were simultaneously beginning to awaken in the American subconscious in the years following Kennedy's assassination and during the Vietnam War. But still, there is a sense of joy and fondness in the works that can't be denied, a nostalgia for a time in America's history where everything still seemed possible.
"At Moments Like These He Feels Farthest Away" runs through Friday, April 29th at New York University's Fales Library, 70 Washington Square South at LaGuardia Place.