Artists Working in the Contemporary South
Curated By Tyrus Lytton and John Lee Matney
Opening: September 13, 2013.
Closing: November 8, 2013
The art in Temporal Distortions is brought together from world class artists working in the contemporary south. They are leaders and innovators in their fields each bringing a unique voice and methodology. Throughout the work there is a synchronicity taking place: a searching for understanding through and of place. Much of the recent philosophical history dealing with the question of what is place and how do we operate within or around it has taken hold of many centralizing ideas with its roots in Martin Heidegger. Even the latest metaphysical fashion of Object Oriented Ontology (OOO) deals with an inside versus outside placing. “OOO” is a metaphysical concern of whether things exist only within our perceptions or independently of it. As a culture of nomads able to travel great distances via automobile, bus, train, boat, or airplane our sense of place is constantly changing in a manner that yesterday and tomorrow may not comprehend. Orson Welles and Alvin Toffler described this as a symptom of “Future Shock”. Curtis Mayfield wrote one of his best songs dealing with aspects of this. Once seen as a sickness we now barely question it as a fact of life. Change has always come with unsettling maneuvers for some and there are always seemingly new or different pressures accompanying it. The collection of works presented in this exhibition not only questions our interaction/being with place, they celebrate it. They celebrate it as someone who truly celebrates a lover by not discounting the dark desires from the light ones or a hairy nostril from a dainty earlobe.
Hye Yeon Nam’s piece “Hooray” examines her acclimation to the United States and her place as a woman in the U.S. and contrasts when she was living in South Korea. Not only is her work an examination of geologically separated cultures but also her place with in power systems. With her mechanical pieces the mere casting of our shadows over photovoltaic sensors cause wooden totems bow to us, and while they do she repeatedly does so with a smile on her face looping through video. Joshua Bienko’s tightly worked “le con” paintings present aspects of “arena” in varied ways while asking questions and making puns. Mike Calway-Fagen’s multi-media piece, “from back forward to again” examines his exploration of the Colorado Landscape as he strapped an upright piano to the bed of his truck and recorded the sounds of the truck and piano as he made his way off road utilizing the capabilities of a four wheeled drive truck and it’s percussive capabilities interacting with his road less taken. Michael Oliveri’s photographic prints were made utilizing an electron microscope, a feat that even if the images weren’t as prosaic as they are would still bear praise. Their otherworldly evocations push upon us the beauty and reality of worlds we discard in the carcasses of winshielded flies or the empire of our body’s microcosm. Tom Francis’ work of thickly hung paint of a kitchen interior filled with a bounty of fruit and a tropical bird transmits a richness and comfort provided by domestication and protection offered by modernity contrasted against the darkness and danger outside which is conquered through the electric light. The paintings saturation of colors is as lush as the paint is thick. Kathryn Refi’s painting is a process of discovering herself through digital sensors; she translates the empirical into a poem of hues all the more beautiful for its standing as a record of the ambient colors within a 24 hour period of her existence. Art Rosenbaum’s life size painting towers as a complex cultural statement of observation which words of description fall apart upon. Paul Light’s painting methodology harkens back to abstract expressionism while pushing against contemporary metaphysics. Jeff Surace’s painting is a palette-knife dappled work that meditates on both the tree and the forest; a work that expresses an acceptance of being and its beauty. Scott Belville’s paintings are rich with imagery of what we cast aside. They are tightly and lovingly painted depicting the refuse of discarded objects and quirky figures.
The works presented in “Temporal Distortions” observe and exam place and being in their own ways. What makes them extraordinary is they are not providing us with answers only more questions. I hesitate to write about the works as my insight won’t necessarily be yours. The works do not demand a written explanation, they only are. The Ubuntu philosophy believes that we rely on our society to give us our human-ness, that we must operate actively with in our culture to become human. Perhaps these works and interacting with them not only enhances our human nature but gives a place for us to be human.
-Tyrus Lytton and John Lee Matney