SOUTHFIRST 60 N6th Street  Brooklyn, NY  11211     ph 718 599 4884




New paintings by


9 April – 9 May, 2010

Reception BBQ:  Sunday 2 May, 2010 1PM+


Southfirst is proud to present “Agents of Romance and Justice,” a two-person show presenting new paintings by Spero Plagianos and Ellen Takata. The exhibition will be on view from 9 April – 9 May, 2010.


While the protagonists of the works in this show are Vietnamese video stars from the 1980s, Serge Gainsbourg, and the tragic figure of Marat, the subject is longing. The paintings—Takata's in a brushy matte whisper and Plagianos' in wavering bold television blues—reflect not only the heroism of their subjects but the distance, slight but palpable, between the painters and the people mythologized in popular and cult media.

What has often been staged as a contest between painting and other arts becomes painting's paean to film and to the glow of a cathode tube. To make paintings is to deal in the materialization of the immaterial. The works in this exhibition are a collection of views into other lives, views haunted by their own marginality and mortality, a feat that used to be the province of still life and here is performed by portraiture.


Ellen Takata recently sent us a photo of Vietnamese “pirates” and wrote:


Most of the early photos of VN seem to have been by (or sold by) Pierre Dieulefils, a soldier who helped take over and then had a studio in Hanoi. His "Yen The pirates" series came out just as their rebellion happened (in the region of Yen The) - 60 plates in all, including those of the gang's leader with his small children as well as, later on, the heads of executed members...sigh, not unlike the work of other photographers in other parts of Asia at the time. I bothered to learn that the first photographs of Korea were taken by a war photographer hired by an American warship on a "diplomatic mission" there (actually it was the famous Beato, before he switched to women and cherry blossoms). There seems to be one "native" contemporary of Dieulefils called "J. Chinh," but in most cases it's hard to tell who really took the images.


This is Ellen Takata's third two-person show at the gallery. She has shown most recently in March in "In a Shadow Box" at Galerie Crystal Ball in Berlin in Berlin. Spero Plagianos has shown previously in France and is exhibiting at Southfirst for the first time.


SOUTHFIRST is located at 60 N6th Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn between Wythe and Kent Avenues. Gallery hours are Friday - Sunday from 1-6 PM and by appointment. Subway: L train to Bedford Avenue.  For more information, please contact Florian Altenburg at 718 599 4884 or