Time in the shadow of the wing of the thing too big to see, rising. -David Foster Wallace – Infinite Jest
Lisa Cooley Fine Art is proud to present an exhibition by Frank Haines, Under the Shadow of the Wing of the Thing. The show begins with an opening reception from 6 until 8pm on Sunday, February 27th and continues through March 27th, 2011. The exhibition will be accompanied by a lecture on March 10, 2011, called Traversing the Boundless: Modes of Transgression and Transcending Duality – From Baphomet to Marlene Dietrich – A brief discourse on methods of the exploration of taboos, boundaries, and cognition itself, as intimated in Art, Culture and the Occult, by Frater Puck.
Frank Haines’s new exhibition is comprised of works on paper and sculptures that explore multiple and overlapping dualities – form and concept, energy and matter, light and darkness, the primal and the cerebral. Haines’s expansive practice finds continual inspiration from mystic iconography, Jungian psychology, geometry, speculative science, cognitive perception and theatricality. The title of the exhibition is taken from a passage in David Foster Wallace’s dystopian opus Infinite Jest, in which an inscrutable darkness is articulated. This darkness serves as the intangible axis of the exhibition but in keeping with Haines’s worldview, darkness is equally light, and both are but two expressions of the same energy – As Above, So Below.
The three grided sculptures in the exhibition continue a series of similar works previously exhibited both in the gallery’s inaugural show, and in Vienna at Galerie Krinzinger in 2008. Yet they are a departure, as the theatricality and gesture in these works reflects the influence of Haines’s performances, which might be described as a combination of geometric stage elements, the American Songbook, and ritualistic baptisim with each color of the spectrum. Furthermore, a dark, underlying humor has emerged – one sculpture vaguely suggests a human head, with a large Quartz crystal in the place of an eye. In other works, a wide smile, like that of the Cheshire Cat, either appears or disappears. While the artist’s physical affect on the forms is present, they also resemble modernist artifacts left in decay; as if these conceptual forms were left to grow free of human interruption or folly, being re-infused with their previously disavowed cosmic energy. For Haines, this is not the customary apocalyptic nightmare in popular culture, but an illustration of the energy underlying our conscious perception and shared matter.
The works on paper, heavily saturated and densely layered, simultaneously operate as esoteric symbols, hypnagogic abstractions, and narrative spaces. Faces, orbs, and eyes emerge from dark clouds while symbolism slips into shadowy abstraction. Against a foregrounding of grids and Mandala like shapes, paint is layered significantly. This heavy application upon the surface of each work is not purely an aesthetic choice, but also a ritualistic one. Echoing the history of alchemy, the building up of materials mirrors the energy distilled within the creation of the work. As the viewer gets lost within these slightly grotesque figurations, that material energy continues to radiate.
With artistic forbearers such as Yves Klein, Mike Kelley, Paul McCarthy, and Kenneth Anger, Frank Haines’s work combines elements of geometry with dark and uncanny humor. Yet his multi-disciplinary explorations and vast archiving of spiritual knowledge are motivated by a joyous inquisitiveness and thoughtful humanism. In many respects, this exhibition is a continuation of his Frame presentation at the Frieze Art Fair last year, in which his vibrant photographs used the contrasting psychological perception of Red and Blue as a conduit to an altered state. Many of the elements seen there are visible here, albeit in different forms.
Frank Haines lives and works in New York. He has shown extensively in the US and internationally, most recently he has been featured in group exhibitions at the Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, New York, Krinzinger Galerie in Vienna, and B Gallery in Tokyo. In addition, Haines stages intense, mystical performances that are frequently timed to co-inside with celestial events, most recently at MoMA/PS1 and Performa09. He also performs music with Chris Kachulis as the duo Blanko and Noiry.