January 8 — February 20, 2021

Steam (For Archie Shepp)

Stephen Lapthisophon



Conduit Gallery is honored to present Steam (for Archie Shepp), a solo exhibition of paintings by Dallas-based artist, Stephen Lapthisophon.

Comely as me
Will be
Soft as the rain
And sweet as the end of pain
A star gleaming
Bright as fire in the night
A theme
Whenever i think of Steam
When i'm flying high
Feel like a eagle in the sky

“Silence remains, inescapably, a form of speech.” – Susan Sontag

The exhibition will feature paintings all produced in 2020. While not revolving around any central theme or subject, the works carry a shared set of strategies and approaches—the use of collaged surfaces, common everyday materials, text and language fragments and embedded historical references. The title of the exhibition itself refers to the American musician and composer Archie Shepp whose 1972 album “Attica Blues” includes the song “Steam” as well as an array of spoken word poems, big band arrangements and recitations of political texts. The album features notable musicians of the 60/70’s jazz avant-garde, as well as choirs, significant political figures such as William Kunstler and untrained performers including children. The album draws from a wide-ranging variety of participants reflecting the spirit and multi-layered sources of paintings in the exhibition. The paintings draw from diverse strategies of surface construction built with historical reference. The references integrate text, material and language elements to honor past artists and art movements. Titles of pieces in the show focus on sound as well as image—Swirling, Skin, Senza, Silence and Steam.

Stephen Lapthisophon (b. 1956) is an American artist, writer, and educator working in the field of conceptual art, critical theory, and disability studies. Lapthisophon received his BFA from the University of Texas at Austin and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1979. His studies continued at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois in the Department of Comparative Literature and Theory from 1986-1989. His early work combined poetry, performance, sound art, and visual arts with postmodern philosophical concerns. Influences include Arte Povera, Robert Smithson and the legacy of the Situationists, who sought to make everyday life a focus of artistic activity.

In 1994 he suffered a major deterioration of his vision due to a neurological malady and became legally blind after intensive medical treatment. His subsequent work as an installation artist and art theorist has been marked by this experience.

In his most recent work, Lapthisophon incorporates everyday objects as a means of breaking down the barriers between his art and daily life. His use of found objects such as string, cloth, leaves, or eggshells, as well as food materials including coffee, cinnamon, or saffron, challenges our ideas of permanence and process as they relate to art making. In doing so, he exalts the everyday and attempts to slow time in order to look longer and unpack hard-to-find meanings and forgotten histories.

He has exhibited extensively across the United States as well as internationally in exhibitions in Germany, Spain, Sweden, France, the United Kingdom, and Mexico. Selected museum exhibitions include the Dallas Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and the Museo de la Ciudad Queretaro, Mexico. He lives and works in Dallas, Texas where he is currently a Senior Lecturer at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Artists in this Exhibition

Artist Video