A group show of works by eight artists presenting an ensemble of unabashedly delicate and highly decorative works that employ non-traditional craft materials and techniques to arrive at an expression of exquisite beauty that pleasures the eye and quivers the soul.
Opening Reception: Thursday April 29th: 6-8pm
On View: April 29th - May 22nd, 2021, Wednesday to Saturday, 12 - 6pm
Equity Gallery 245 Broome Street, New York, NY 10002
Eight gay and queer-identifying artists present an ensemble of unabashedly delicate and highly decorative works that employ non-traditional craft materials and techniques to arrive at an expression of exquisite beauty that pleasures the eye and quivers the soul.
For the vast majority of our planet’s inhabitants, life in the immediate aftermath of the COVID pandemic presents an anxious premonitory landscape inciting a narrow range of fear laden and negative responses. An alternative point of view, borrowed from individuals and groups that have weathered similar perilous episodes, allows that the very nature of turbulence propels instances of revelatory phenomena with near equivalent power. Susceptibility to these epiphanic forces seems linked to an individual’s or group’s aptitude to tolerate and remain attentive to the charged dynamics swirling about them while remaining essentially intact---a “wholeness” achieved through a hyper-awareness of what constitutes the core self in relationship to the self’s aptitude for creative manufacturing --the products, affectations, and transformations that allow for adaptive survival and more importantly, unexpected flights of the spirit.
For an individual, or a select group, the sum total of these adaptive expressions becomes a language onto itself---an insider argot secreting an inner strength and solidarity that confirms well-being as an achievable aspiration that shores up the individual and safeguards the group. Exuberance, by extension, becomes the best defense. The LGTBQ community, coming under the broad heading of “gay” or “queer”, well exemplifies a group having assembled a richly layered cultural expression---one that often trumpets an exaggerated theatricality of joy and ecstasy to scaffold a sheltering hope against hostile forces.
The exhibition “Rapture” stages a full-on display of the avenging transcendence of gaiety as a proven tactic for disarming oppression. The show features the work of seven artists that span two generations and collectively identify as gay, queer and non-binary. Chris Tanner weaponizes triviality and decorative embellishment by deploying non-traditional materials often associated with crafting, such as embroidery, sewing notions, beads, baubles and glittery sequins, to produce intricate sculptural forms that aim to pleasure the eye with an escapist holiday replete with dazzling displays of color, form and texture. Tanner’s installation will focus on his latest driftwood transformations that are fairytale spectacles of bejeweled splendor .
Andrew Cornell Robinson, a multimedia artist known to infuse his composite works with design, craft and fine art elements, will display ceramic vessels from his “My Cup Runneth Over” series. Created using traditional raku methods, a firing process initially invented for pottery intended for tea ceremonies (raku translates to “pleasure”), the pieces display dense black surfaces glazed over with shimmering jewel tones further heightened by embellishments of gold, glitter, paint and collaged paper.
Peter Hristoff ’s paintings and Sean O’Conner paper constructions similarly blur the line between art and design and mimic patterns one might see in wallpapers, printed fabrics, and quilts. Both employ a collage-inspired technique; for Hristoff , we see all-encompassing, edge-to-edge compositions cast with shadowy silhouettes that activate surface effects and hint at homo-romantic intentions. O’Connor’s naïve cut-outs similarly re-contextualize silhouettes, in this instance borrowing from Grecian urns and classical motifs to arrive at surrealist figure compositions that recall the ephemeral delicacy of Jean Cocteau. Cocteau’s sighing sensual line resurfaces in Harrison Tenzer’s high-chroma graphics that speak in layered hieroglyphs about biomorphic encounters that range from the pornographic to the miraculous.
Like Tenser’s drawings, Adrian Milton’s paintings and Wade Schaming’s sculptures, explore the language of abstraction to arrive at a queer aesthetic. Milton, a true child of the sixties, creates psychedelic geometries that recall the glittering flamboyance of his gender-bending drag performances as a Cockette. A magpie, Schaming hordes a wild and colorful assortment of mass- produced detritus and stockpiles it into teetering towers -- a perhaps too obvious symbol of fickle male desire and the paradox of the queer gaze which conflates prey and predator.
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An interest in the expressive potential of processes and ideas pertaining to admixtures and amalgamations, in materials and concept alike, coheres the creative practices of Stephanie Hargrave, Andrew Cornell Robinson and Ben Pritchard. This is true in a general sense, as they have all been working in such modes for many years. It’s particularly true, however, with regard to their studio production this year, selections from which constitute the materially rich and mystically spirited works that find convergence in Conjurings & Concoctions.
Thick strata of scumbles, spills, brushstrokes, scrapes, drips, smears and scrawls factor into Ben Pritchard’s generously textured oil paintings. These facets of somewhat evasive or unstable facture find ultimate confluence, however, in bold forms that seem to both draw from and manifest ex nihilo entire systems of divinatory symbols, celestial mappings, indecipherable runes. Pritchard’s surfaces might elude, in other words, but his representations assert. Consequently, a small work like Power seems to convey landscape and figure alike as the latter rises through the former, or as the former settles atop the latter — or perhaps the artist’s robustly made marks depict the form of a temple seeking alignment with the stars above. In Debate, background and foreground remain shifty and uncertain in the work’s otherwise formally declarative black and white registers. And in Darkness, a slow-moving circuit of bright yellow marks provides an elegantly brushy, curiously nestling framework for a punchy red orb. Variable saturations and surface treatments yield pared down yet similar results in Pritchard’s works on paper.
Andrew Cornell Robinson works consistently in more media and in a broader range of processes than many artists might work in a lifetime. He’s as comfortable shaping clay on a potter’s wheel as he is filling walls with delicate drawings, binding prints and texts into books, making paintings and sculptures for installations, and devising video and photo shoots for narrative-driven exhibitions. Several of these aspects of his work are on display in Conjurings & Concoctions. Ultimately monotypes, the artist’s works on paper in the show, operating in primary-colored concert with one another, evidence a more layered process upon closer scrutiny, revealing themselves to be monotypes executed atop serialized prints of texts and small drawings extracted from an archive of sketches and notes. Quite materially different are Robinson’s ceramics in a series he calls My Cup Runneth Over, in which an almost alchemical admixture of colorful glazes, stains, glitters and gold overlays encourage these ostensibly empty cups to fully spill their guts. Exquisitely beguiling in form and material alike, Robinson’s Memento Mori sculptures present as exuberant apparitions, iconic conjurings of mysterious deities whispering forth from tree hollows in enchanted forests.
An enchanted forest, perhaps, is just the place where Stephanie Hargrave’s sculptural amalgamations would find themselves right at home. In her works presented in Conjurings & Concoctions, Hargrave combines stoneware, encaustic, metal and other media to create objects and ephemeral images that are vaguely familiar as forms of known things, but that ultimately resist recognition as specific things or known forms. They are organic; they are inorganic. They are human-hewn, perhaps utilitarian masses; they are the settled matters of nature’s timeless exhalations, growths and primordial gases. Hybrid 25, for instance, is a petrified bubbling puckering out into the open to exhale, or it’s the vacated dwelling of an ancient mollusk. Flashik might be a rattle-like musical instrument for a mysterious rite, or it might be a battle-worn weapon of warfare. It might also be some undying organism whose length of tooth has left it biding its time with arduous, slowly gnashing bites. An especially peculiar object even in the midst of so much strangeness is Hargrave’s Bucaro. Executed in clay and encaustic, it appears as a crimson-saturated, drippily drenched, cardial tissue-like issue pumping lifebloods into and all over itself, and maybe also into its kindred others all around it.
As you poke about in the imagined realm of Conjurings & Concoctions, it might be wise to watch your step and mistrust your eyes — while listening closely to the trees and peering up, here and there, at the skies.
M. David & Co.
Robinson’s artwork examines and highlights the historical, collective, and often cyclical nature of the visual language of revolution and unrest. His multidisciplinary work is currently showcased in an online-only exhibition, “Andrew Cornell Robinson: The Time of Protest and Plague,” now featured on our WING project space and Artsy profile. View work from the exhibition on Artsy
Studio in the Time of Protest and Plague.
June 10, 2020 Interview with Andrew Cornell Robinson
By Michael Gormley
Living in a city driven by artistic ambition, “What are you working on” is the go-to question meant to quickly distill the daring of one’s aspirational reach, the aesthetic value of its form and the intent and likelihood of financial success and lasting fame. In the upheaval of social unrest and pandemic, the question sizes up how one is to staying alive. Over the past three months Equity has been posting text, images and videos of pandemic projects its member artists have been engaged in.