Jon Kessler’s installations respond to our current information-saturated culture where the search for the self often occurs within the realm of digital media. His most recent exhibition, “The Web“, immerses viewers in our technology obsessed world. Cameras and surveillance equipment abound, constantly capturing and clicking photos and videos of participants. The installation itself is a conceptual clusterfuck that suggests our importance of ritualistic clicking over what’s actually being captured with the clicks. His other work similarly addresses themes of capture, surveillance, fame, and mass media by using related techniques. These installations confuse us and ask us to consider the nature of reality and the authority we grant to technology and mass media with regard to our own identities.
New York artist James Clar lived in the globalized city of Dubai from 2007-2012 where he was immersed in the arts and culture scene. Fueled by an interest in visual media communication, this experience and the larger themes of globalism, nationalism, and pop culture are apparent in his work. Clar’s light-based installations address the boundaries of technology and the way that it creates and limits new communications within our culture. Some of his work uses light more directly than others, but they all respond to the relationship of light with its surroundings. Clar’s line or geometric-based designs reflect the connections and networks that abound in our culture. His manipulation of this technology expresses the softness of light and the hardness of the forms that contain it.
Something feels oddly luxurious about John Breed’s strange mixed media sculptures and installations. His work largely depicts a capitalistic culture of excess and its relationship with death, the most provocative of which includes the implementation of skeletons, animal and human. In “Goodbye Paradise“, Breed portrays a silver-plated Edenic scene of human and animal skeletons, speaking to the nature of renewal that is perpetually haunted by our eventual decay. His work breathes new life into these skeletons and other found objects by coating them resin,silver, or gold, giving them an effect of purity and newness. Threaded throughout his work is the idea of monetary value and how the value of something fluctuates within a newer, shinier context. Perhaps the work that best encompasses our excessive capitalistic culture is “In God We Trust,” an installation comprised of silver-plated pig skeletons labeled with the names Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs, Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, and citi bank. Breed lives and works in The Netherlands.
Argentinian artist Gerardo Feldstein and his absurd sur/realist sculptures recontextualize the way we think about space and the body’s movement within that space. Some of his work features anthropomorphized figures, an exaggerated body part (arms, legs, heart), or he places his sculpted figures into a landscape or susceptible position. His figures encompass a narrative of power and humor, and the role that our perspective plays in relation to these concepts. Some of his mixed media sculptures emit a vulnerability that, though expressed through this absurd medium, feels relatable and almost empathetic.
Dan Colen’s trash-to-treasure mixed media installations remind us of the potential of beauty in the discarded. In his exhibition, Blowin’ In the Wind, Colen repurposes the painting tools which he uses to create his Trash series. These objects are placed or hung in the gallery, absent of the painted canvases that resulted from their use. Painting tools include objects such as a flip-flop, a paint can, rags, string, bottles, a tire, a yellow mop bucket, a McDonald’s food bag, and an umbrella handle. In Out of the Blue and Into the Black, Colen tars and feathers an entire gallery wall with one small and bright painted canvas among this image of morbidity. Also part of this installation is a cluster of suspended beat-up and forgotten blue bicycles. Representing the more literal approach of trash-to-treasure are canvases onto which Colen has pasted painted trash or gum and gum wrappers. Colen’s background is in painting and a series of his oil paintings, entitled The Spirits That I Called, will be on view at Oko Gallery in New York from May 15 – June 15.
Marc Quinn’s surreal sculpture work is undeniably provocative and captivating. While he uses many different materials for his sculpture and installation work, he always seems to address the idea of bodies and their boundaries, the materiality of the human condition, or the relationship between nature and culture. Quinn’s 2004 exhibition, The Complete Marbles, is a collection of marble sculptures depicting amputees and disabled individuals that alludes to the style of Greco-Roman statues. Quinn recently donated his paradoxical sculpture from 2008, “Planet,” for permanent display at the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore. Very large and heavy, this sculpture depicts his son as a sleeping baby and appears weightless, almost floating. His most recent solo exhibition, All the Time in the World, is currently on display at Mary Boone Gallery in New York until June 29th.
Whether David Mesguich is creating sculptures or painting with watercolors, he maintains a basic color palette, heavy in contrasting blacks, whites, greys, and tones of sepia. His geometric sculptures of faces and people look like they were printed from a 3D printer. This conception gives his figures a digital effect that, when paired with the size, gaze, warp effects, or placement of them, has the potential to unsettle a viewer. This effect is even more pronounced when considered alongside Mesguich’s cardboard CCTV camera sculptures,100 of which he placed in various locations around Marseille. This idea of surveillance is even depicted throughout his watercolor paintings that represent scenes of city life, usually related to mobility and movement. Mesguich’s work seeks to challenge “modes of control” by addressing the “transparency of windows and shadows.”
Robert Therrien recontextualizes everyday images and objects by exaggerating them. His larger-than-life sculptures of tables, chairs, and dishware offer viewers an alternative perspective of these usually mundane and overlooked domestic elements. Therrien’s work simultaneously validates and absurdifies these simple objects by calling attention to their existence. In addition to enlarging items, Therrien also warps them or physically places them in a thoughtful context, commenting on the boundaries of the functionality, design, and purpose of these simple objects and images. Accompanying the inorganic images are organic ones, such as a 51 inch tall beard and a 47 inch long stork beak with bundle. Therrien has lived in Los Angeles since 1971.