Virgil de Voldere gallery is proud to present our second solo exhibition with John Powers. The sculptures and drawings on view demonstrate the artist’s sustained exploration of modular construction, serial repetition, and the monochrome.
Empire, the exhibition’s sculptural centerpiece, is a hanging five-foot globe constructed from cut Styrofoam blocks and laminated with rectangular plates of anodized aluminum. Powers’ blocks are standardized and machine-made, yet the artist introduces an intricate art-making process that instills a gestural quality to the work, belying its initial cool and distant appearance. The proportions of the blocks 1×2 x 3 conform to that of his past sculptural work, but here the smoky shine and reflectivity of Empire’s outer skin emphasizes surface without obscuring its underlying foam structure. And though harnessed to the materiality of disco balls and the iconography of science fiction, the work remains a hard-edged abstraction.
Dualisms continue in smaller sculptures built of the same boxy architectural blocks, which seem to grow organically, almost like mushrooms, from the walls. These works Anarcha and Phineas Gage transcend the concreteness of their materials through their rich references to portraiture and their contrast of disfigurement and beauty.
The drawings, like the sculptures and all of Powers’ work, capture the tensions of rigor and play, artisanal gesture and industrial manufacture, and figure and ground.