I made each one of these by hand and by that I mean I did not subcontract them to a factory or pay some guy to make them for me.” – H.C. Westermann, inscription on “30 Dustpans”, 1972
Maccarone Gallery is pleased to present, Wood, an exhibition exploring “wood” as artistic medium. The array of sculptural objects comes from gallery artists implementing this simple material, maintaining a reverence for Modernism’s belief in all-natural aesthetics. Embarking on medium as exhibition catalyst, all the works on display evoke the history of wood-as-material – contemplating its function, its role within the domestic, its characteristics as the statuary, its universal use as a mode of survival.
Surely the utilization of wood in history and contemporary practice is rather ubiquitous. Yet the artists here reveal a visual vocabulary wrought with poetics for this material, and their shared earnestness leaves them no alternative but to confront the ironies of formalism head-on. By choosing wood they relish all that it encompasses, specifically meticulous craftsmanship and the innate beauty found in the everyday. Hobbyists at home, carpenters in shops, loggers in the forest, builders on the job, artists in the studio – in technique they are not very different, wood is THE raw material of the everyman, by very definition assigned an organic higher power.
Wood can be shaved, chopped, molded, carved—or merely left alone. The choice of found wood, the materially old and worn washed-up along shore or usurped from the wilderness, illustrates a concentration on the forms and ideas in culture that re-surface time and again, suggesting a broader examination of the meaning of survival. Once-living trees now as sculptural conceit further constituent the concept of regeneration – the tree in itself being a haunting emblem for the passage of time. Via the use of wood as art object comes an acknowledgment of the vulnerability of all things.
Certain works in this exhibition contemplate wood’s function as shelter and as element of support, and in other instances as an element of intrusion, proposing a paradoxical dialogue around its inherent principles. Other instances present meditation on design practices and an investigation of culture’s emphasis on decorative motif and industrial-fabricated forms of the medium. Wood is further utilized as allegory of past sculptural conventions, specifically the late 20th century’s romanticization of the unlimited availability of natural resources as raw material, as well as the post-modern idealization of monumental sculptural produced by immense industrial means, when mass-production began to dominate culture-at-large.
Merging together to create the effect of a ghost-town tableau, these objects achieve the impression of relics from another place, given new life via the gesture of presentation. An emphasis on the purity of utilizing the easily-attainable is a constant philosophical imperative. Wood as an exhibition champions a belief in the powers of redemption – how maintaining complete faith in the integrity and beauty of material gives a kind of moral urgency to the object. With these artworks, in this particular time of economic and cultural water-treading, we are reminded that inventiveness is a strategy to survival in itself.
PARTICIPATING ARTISTS: Carol Bove, David Lamelas, Corey McCorkle, Oscar Tuazon and Eli Hansen.