Notes from the Arts + Crafts Research Studio of Andrew Cornell Robinson
The diverse and theatrical endeavors range from Hyde’s tilted Wunderkammer like glass boxes to the grand gestures of Cemin’s polyester resin objects and surprisingly minimalist patterns of Leirner’s raw material compositions.
Cemin has created a number of luscious forms based on a repeated oblong gourd which visually allude to a multi-breasted deity. The “Supercuia” sculptures are scattered around the space and act as bulbous visual asterisks that glimmer with a glossy gooey industrial high polish sheen. A similar material ethos can be observed in Hyde’s paintings. In a small gallery near the front desk I watched a man step back and forth and side to side before one of James Hyde’s frescoes. A giant green slab of industrial Styrofoam slathered in plaster and covered in a hypnotic green color seem to levitate off wall. Finally the man peered behind this floating green hunk of industrial detritus and expressed a confounded delight to learn the magician’s trick to be comprised of common building materials holding up a façade of visual magic. It’s fascinating that this combination of raw material is able to produce such a hypnotic illusion. Hyde’s work goes on to expose more of this aesthetic trickery in several large scale tilted glass containers. His Petri dish approach to these painted spaces contained and objectified reveals the hand of the artist. By revealing the parts for the whole the gushing paint and crumpled paper in these compositional temper tantrums Hyde moves matter to form an object and exposes the naked process derived from the various stages of its creation. It’s ironic that the yoke of art historical precedence in Hyde’s joyful approach to materials (see Rauschenberg, De Kooning and abstract expressionism in general) adds a counterpoint to the monotonous drudgery of reconstituted corporate culture. Jac Leirner’s peculiar combinations of house hold materials, found objects, and devalued Brazilian money finds a comfortable niche separate from the more muscular works of Hyde and Cemin, even when they compete for attention in the main gallery space. Unlike the facile exhibitionism of Cemin or the material trickery of Hyde, Leirner manages to create an illusion through tried and true Gestalt visual patterns of repetition that are shattered as the unostentatious nature of the rudimentary materials are recognized. A seemingly endless length of electrical wire unceremoniously nailed to the wall and terminating in a shining light bulb initially appears as a monotonous minimalist grid.
There is something surprising and unexpected to see these contemporary artists each in their own way explore and expose the foundations and mysteries of the materials of their own making and do so in a fresh and invigorating march forward standing on the shoulders of giants while not getting bogged down in the navel gazing narratives of the day.
By Andrew Cornell Robinson
Written for the Gay City News
“Saint Clair Cemin, James Hyde, Jac Leirner”
Sikkema Jenkins & Co.
530 West 22nd Street
New York, NY 10011
Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 6pm
14 December 2006 – 27 January 2007
(Closed 26 – 30 December 2006)
Image courtesy Sikkema Jenkins & Co.
Supercuia,” 2006, polyester resin 46 x 46 x 46 inches