October 2015: Leonard Suryajaya

2:50 pm, November 15, 2015 in Blog, Photography, Reviews by Ken Aschliman

Leonard Suryajaya, Installation view of Bathe Me When I Die

Ambivalence. This word comes to mind when viewing Leonard Suryajaya’s exhibition Bathe Me When I Die. Surayjaya’s work is a clashing of cultures, cleanliness and comfort. Navigating the complicated relationships among his photographs and videos is made easier by learning about the equally complicated relationship the artist has with himself. Growing up with Buddhist parents, attending a Christian school, spending much of his youth with a Muslim “other mother,” Suryajaya’s video and photography share an ongoing grappling with his sense of self and belonging.

 

Leonard Suryajaya, Still from Chocolate Beard, 2014, video

In his online bio, Suryajaya pulls in another piece of the puzzle that is identity. He writes that as he came to understand his homosexuality, his feelings of alienation deepened further. The pieces on display at ROY accomplish something unexpected. For viewers entering the exhibit, the first thing they see is an unsettling video, titled Chocolate Beard. In this piece, a seemingly unaffected, expressionless bearded man lies nude on what looks like an operating table in the center of a set-up for a photo shoot. The artist enters, wearing a trucker hat reading “BOY.” What happens next is not exactly an interaction between the two men as much as it is one man manipulating the other. The artist does this by smearing and licking the chocolate that has been coated on the beard of the subject. Another video, titled Rupa, features the same two men in similar roles. The unaffected bearded subject sits nearly motionless in the center of a kiddie pool. The artist returns and proceeds to alternate shaving, worshipping, and bathing his partner in a mixture of milk and confetti, as though he were decorating a birthday cake. Suryajaya clarifies that the milk bath is actually used to cleanse in traditional Indonesian therapy. He says, “The gesture of bathing the figure is also used in some Buddhist [ceremonies] where the devout comes to bathe the figure as a gesture of self inner cleansing. The confetti is a celebration. It is considering how festive, performative, and staged rituals can be.”

 

Leonard Suryajaya, (With Sister, Aunts, Uncles and Cousin) Mom as Bodhisattva, 2015, archival pigment print

As provocative and literally messy as the video pieces are, the accompanying photographs are equally provocative but contrasting in their clean, posed content. One photograph features the artist’s mother, sister, aunts, an uncle, and a cousin as a Hindu goddess. In her many arms she holds various modern objects, such as a television remote and Ibuprofen. The objects are symmetrical on each side of her body. The goddess in the portrait is a being who has reached enlightenment. This piece is especially personal for Suryajaya. He says, “In a place where she [his mother] will always be lower than my dad and men, I try to say otherwise.”

 

Suryajaya is successful in his exhibition’s ability to stir within viewers the ambivalence he feels himself. He says, “In making work and in thinking about my relationship with the viewer, I strive to create visual experiences for the viewer to respond to. I find that the most effective use of art (especially in dealing with hard themes of oppression, violence and injustice) is when I can invite the viewer to reconsider their placement in these questionings. Therefore it is my ambition to extend the experience of [disorientation] to the viewer.” The videos arouse discomfort and inspire a curiosity for clear answers, both of which are reflected in the artist’s experiences growing up in a culture that clashed with his identity. The photographs juxtapose varying religions and races as well as food imagery and tools. “Food is a signifier of abundance and transverse; however, it is also very specific and carries loaded meanings in its visual placement,” Suryajaya says. He uses the example of beef in one of the photos, as it is not consumed in some religions. As a whole, Bathe Me When I Die works as a collage, piecing together the divergent elements of Suryajaya’s history. The exhibit is reminiscent of designs featured in high fashion magazines; the ensembles we may not see ourselves wearing to dinner, but nevertheless admire the savviness and creativity of the designer. A similar sentiment can be felt for Bathe Me When I Die. Not all viewers will be open to the ideas and questions Suryajaya is exploring and the art he has created to present them; however, the boldness and ingenuity of his work is undeniable.

 

By Ashley Gonzalez

October 2015: Jessika Edgar

2:50 pm, in Blog, Photography, Reviews by Ken Aschliman

Jessika Edgar, Installation view of Hypothetical Self-Contained Separate Reality

Jessika Edgar’s exhibition Hypothetical Self-Contained Separate Reality is made up of colorful curiosities. Her sculptures are arranged about the room at varying heights and means of support. Each piece is appealing to the eye, stimulating in shape, and compelling texturally. These are pieces that make viewers want to reach out and interact with the art. In her statement, Edgar credits her inspiration to George Bataille’s concept of “l’informe.” This concept challenges the visual artist to create a form that in theory doesn’t have one. Some forms of “formlessness” have included tangle, fluff, foam, and fat. Through her sculpture, Edgar experiments with formless objects, or objects that “evade classification and meaning,” which makes her pieces difficult to categorize or label.

 

Jessika Edgar, Lumpy, 2015, ceramic, sprayed rubber, expandable foam, aluminum leaf, stool and spray paint

One sculpture, titled Lumpy, does just that. A pearl, marshmallow-like mass crawling out from a silver encasing, the sculpture manages to somehow look appetizing as much as it does an alien life form. Specifically, the lack of construction implied by the idea of formlessness has been turned on its head here. Edgar explores the impact of socially constructed identity and value, while referencing contemporary popular culture and mass media influences. In her statement, she specifies that her sculptures and installations “illustrate media imagery, especially related to gender, beauty, and material desire.” Combining pleasing forms with darker implications, Edgar evokes “cognitive dissonance.” She wants to draw attention to this idea by “creating a psychological space that is simultaneously critical and indulgent.” 

 

Jessika Edgar, Legs that go on for days, 2015, ceramic and vinyl

Aesthetically, Edgar’s sculptures are beautiful and well crafted. Her thoughts regarding cognitive dissonance and social constructs; however, lurk in the same space that at first felt whimsical. Her piece Legs that go on for days is an image ostensibly tied to gender and beauty. The “legs,” which rest upside down and criss-crossed, cast a shadow on the wall. The sculpture itself is highly textured and colored in hues of green, but none of that is reflected in the ominous shadow. Only looking at the shadow, the soft legs are uncrossed, becoming looming, sharp, and scissor-like. This piece is suggestive of Edgar’s ideas on popular culture and mass media distorting our sense of reality, just as the shadow of Legs disfigures the truth of the sculpture. She says, “I am someone who consumes a lot of media. I will binge watch TV shows and movies while I work in the studio, so much so that it has become a necessary part of my studio practice. Also, I love glossy shiny advertisements in magazines. I like the images, the colors, and the sexiness. While I often draw directly from colors and the sheen of magazines advertisements, I am also interested in the way that the female body is cropped and dissected in these images.”

 

It is also worth noting that this sculpture is placed at the south wall of the room, along with another sculpture titled Used and Abused. This pink mass of rolls stacked upon rolls spills over the delicate stool it sits on. This piece suggests conflicting messages concerning body image and beauty. In contrast, the sculpture in the forefront of the exhibit, Curly Q, sits neatly on a box resembling a gift box, coated in dazzling wrapping paper. The form of Curly shifts in both color and shape. Much like a vase, the bottom is wide and bulbous but goes on to form a smooth neck just before, as the name suggests, there is a curl at the top, altering the direction of the piece. The presentation of Curly as a gift and the mutation of form reflects Edgar’s aim to highlight material desire and how our ideas about what we value aesthetically, whether it be in how we look or the things we buy, can be easily changed. The arrangement of the sculptures feels significant because the tug of war between the criticism and indulgence heightens in intensity as the viewer moves through the room.

 

By Ashley Gonzalez

Short North Temporary Mural – Dana Lynn Harper

5:36 pm, September 25, 2015 in Blog, Photography by Ken Aschliman

ROY G BIV Gallery is proud to present artist Dana Lynn Harper for the third rendition of the Short North Temporary Mural Series. Harper’s mural, titled Diatoms, was installed on September 11, 2015, at the intersection of High St. and Starr Ave.

 

 

 

Dana Lynn Harper, Diatoms

 

“My piece titled Diatoms is an abstract representation of real diatoms found in the natural world. Diatoms are single celled alga with a silica skeleton. The bi- or tri-symmetrical skeletons inspire the basic formation of each miniature diatom that I sculpt. These abstract, fundamental geometric forms and textures are inspiring because they’re alien or unknown. While looking otherworldly, they still look biological and familiar. As they are made, one inspires the other, making up new alterations and variations as they are created. The details as well as forms become an evolutionary process. All the diatoms are related, inspiring each other yet still maintaining their individuality.”

 

Harper received her MFA from Penn State University in 2013. She holds a BFA in Art & Technology from The Ohio State University (2009). Harper has been an Artist in Residence at BUNKER projects and Second Sight Studio. She was awarded an ArtPrize Artist Seed Grant and The ArtFile Emerging Artist Grant in 2014 and was also awarded Best In Show At The Ohio State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition. In 2015 she received a Ringholz Foundation Grant as well as an Ohio Arts Council award at The Ohio State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition.  Harper has had solo exhibitions at The University of Kentucky, Otterbein University and Front/Space Gallery in Kansas City, Missouri.

 

 

 

Our mural is part of a larger exhibition of murals, titled BLANK SPACES, a partnership with the Short North Alliance and 19 partner galleries and art institutions, with the support of the the Greater Columbus Arts Council and the Short North Foundation.

September 2015: Rodrigo Valenzuela | Blake Turner

2:51 pm, September 23, 2015 in Blog, Photography, Reviews by Ken Aschliman

Rodrigo Valenzuela, Conceal Market No. 1, 2015, Archival pigment print, Edition: 1 of 3 + 1 AP

Shrouded beneath tarps, strung up with rope, or supported by tables, brick platforms, or hooks are the items photographed in Rodrigo Valenzuela’s Conceal Market. The images lining the walls of the gallery’s first room depict nearly colorless warehouse-like rooms, columned blank expanses. The focus of each numbered picture, however, is something hidden. Studying each photograph, the lack of movement and activity in an image identified as a market provokes questions. What are we meant to see in the stillness of these “behind-the-scenes” images? Are the concealed subjects of each photograph waiting for use, to be sold, or to be shipped elsewhere? Or are the items tucked away in blankets, pressed into buckets, and resting in their restraints high above the floor to be discarded? Valenzuela’s photographs continually refer us to a purpose explained in his statement, which is also on display at the exhibition. He writes, “My work serves as an expressive and intimate point of contact between the broader realms of subjectivity and political contingency.” With this thought in mind, perhaps gallery visitors will consider the obscured subjects in each photograph and how much, or how little, we really “see” of the people and processes of parts of our lives we take for granted, a market, for instance.

 

Rodrigo Valenzuela, Conceal Market No. 7, 2015, Archival pigment print, Edition: 1 of 3 + 1 AP

Valenzuela describes the focus of his photographs as not what is sold at markets as much as the market is a place for trading. He says, “I think there is something mysterious in the way that each person decides to protect their goods, the way that they rescue the sculptural value of what they are offering.” He explains that in much of his work there persists a feeling of alienation of people or materials. “I have to isolate elements in order to engage with it. Looking at Conceal Market I see that this process was already done by the owner of the stand and with a particular canvas, unique shape. The process of alienation and individuation happens in a very still way.”

 

Blake Turner, Constructure, 2015, Wood, stain, paper, hand-processed charcoal, lights and video

A grainy whirling sound beckons visitors into the second room. The room exhibits the work of Blake Turner titled Constructure. Turner introduces his installation and its linear theme in an engaging, command-like manner. His statement reads, “Draw a line across an endless page. The pen touches the page, moving along continuously, seemingly infinite. [...] You are not traveling the same historical path but are drawing just next to it, surveying it, parallel to it. From here, observation is the tool for logic, poetry, guilt, abstraction, anger, prescription, diagnosis…”

 

The first piece is something of a ladder, positioned in a corner space of the room. Two rails of wood nearly converge at an illuminated peak, the space between them shrinking. Only twice are they conjoined horizontally. One small cut of wood, almost like a step, bridges the rails near the floor, while another connects them up near the very top, just where they stop running and rest against the walls. As the two parallel rails stretch upward toward one another, playing with perception of size and space, their movement inward halts. Though they are linked, they never intersect. The pinnacle is simply crowned with the gleaming glow of a light bulb. Poised at the bottom of what looks like it should act as a ladder, you wonder how to make the climb when there is only empty space and no tangible steps. Maybe this structure suggests the frustrations, inspirations, and complexities of having to construct our own paths toward a place or a self we desire.

 

Past the wooden structure, the focus shifts to another project, though this time the lines are infinitely connected and drawn with charcoal Turner made himself. Suspended in the center of the room is a large roll of parchment, the center expanded on the floor. There, Turner’s narrative is opened up visually. A black hole gapes from the center of the parchment, flanked by branches of the charcoal used to create it. Before the Constructure installation, Turner had proposed a project for which he would drag a charred tree through the city. “I am influenced by how history and time function within the urban landscape,” he says. “But of course I could never move the tree into the gallery because the doors are too small. And so I would have to cut up the tree and char it all. This is where I began to think materially and depart somewhat from the dragging.” Additionally, Blake explains that processing the materials himself allowed for pieces of charcoal that would “create irregular marks, break during the process, or scratch the surface of the paper.” He feels that this choice adds a sculptural element to the drawing.

 

Blake Turner, Constructure (detail)

Supplementing the piece is a video, the source of the continuous, circular cadence that first ushered visitors into the room. Turner refers to his dragged tree idea in explaining how the video is not meant to be simply illustrative of his process but a part of the installation. He says, “Originally, I was thinking about the tree as a clock, its rings marking time. The Weight [Turner’s original proposal] was a metaphorical gesture much like the video. The video begins in the middle of a drawing as a reflection on how we are randomly born into a landscape that is constantly changing. There are marks made before the video begins; however, we can only see the traces of them. We are unable to access that portion of time.” On the video you can see a hand fluidly moving a piece of charcoal around and around a page. The video is cut so that it begins in the middle of the drawing. “The implication is that we cannot access the beginning; a process is already underway and we are viewing it from some point in time,” Turner says. “Even the end, at least personally, never arrives. The video and the drawing could continue forever.” It’s clear that for Turner, the process, and not only the end result, is an important part of the story he wants to tell.

 

By Ashley Gonzalez

June 2015: Michael Gargiulo | Ash Moniz

3:08 pm, July 16, 2015 in Blog, Photography, Reviews by Ken Aschliman

June in ROY G BIV Gallery fosters personal questions instilled by the shows of artists Michael Gargiulo and Ash Moniz. Incorporating monolithic structures, staring photographs, perplexing videos, and a suitcase sculpture, the artists encourage self-investigation.

 

Installation view of Michael Gargiulo, Private Property, 2015

Michael Gargiulo, who grew up in Cleveland, concerns himself with the issues of class structure, privilege, and the concept of ownership. His series Private Property synthesizes large photographs and enamel canvas paintings into a tense and challenging show. Hostile expressions of armed individuals, black and white deconstructed figures, and magnified symbols confront visitors. The photographs intermixed with the massive canvases highlight singularity. The canvases demand attention with bold fonts and repeated words, echoing the stares emanating from the photographs. A stroll through the gallery causes one to question the self and the meaning of property. The apprehensive tension evident throughout the installation guides the dialogue of Private Property.

 

Michael Gargiulo, Fammy, 2014, Lambda print

Gargiulo’s photographs in the installation highlight the role of individuals: Fammy, Anthony, Jeff, and Caitlin, to name a few. These photographs of young men and women bearing arms against stark white backgrounds stand for property. The repeated pose of a person defensively holding a gun links with the repeated shapes and phrases in Gargiulo’s paintings. The models in the photographs are ethnically diverse and ambiguous; these people seem to be everyday men and women. Would you suspect them to carry a gun? The blank expressions distance viewers and produce an unwelcoming atmosphere. Tensely passing by the photographs, viewers see different types of guns but a similar stance and expression of the featured persons. All right-handed, the models hold rifles and handguns in a seemingly ready stance. The guns, all pointing to the right, lead visitors through the gallery. Confidently blank, the models challenge the viewers’ perceptions of gun laws and gun owners.

 

Gargiulo’s enamel canvases feature available terms and images: “PRIVATE PROPERTY,” “HELP WANTED,” hammers, and a penny. The repetition and enlargement produces monolithic forms. Dislocating and repeating the terms “Help Wanted” and “Private Property” challenges the idea of opportunity and ownership through misrepresentation. Private Property, an eight-foot tall work composed of two canvases, asks: what is private property and what does ownership entail? Setting apart the two words forces viewers to discern their own opinion on the subject. The bold font and overlapping layers of letters turns the term into a pattern.

 

David Hume, a widely known philosopher who proposed that laws of property are only necessary in a state of moderation in order to maintain peace in a society. Gargiulo’s works call on Hume’s theory, emphasizing that property is an issue of the individual in relation to society and a question of supply distribution. It is not an individual subject. Private Property dwells on the ideas of possession, structure, and the sense of self through repetition. Displaying personally identifiable images charges the idea of property as separation and as slightly subjective.

 

Michael Gargiulo, Lungs, 2015, enamel on canvas

Gargiulo’s painting Lungs speaks to the cyclical unfairness of the working class. Here, a hammer hits the end of another hammer that hits the end of another; this process repeats into the space of the canvas. Reminiscent of the symbol for recycling, the image considers the recurring manner of hard work. Gargiulo was told as he grew up “Hard work pays off,” but contrarily he noticed that this is not always the case. Instead, people are stuck in a cycle of always working and never benefiting. The hammer as a symbol of economic production is identifiable to all, and the people who stand as the “hammers” in society act as society’s lungs – always working, never excelling, and not moving forward. 

 

Michael Gargiulo, Wheat Penny, 2015, enamel and graphite on canvas

Concerned with economic disparity, Gargiulo magnifies the smallest unit of currency to a monumental size in his painting Wheat Penny. In recent years, the significance of the penny has declined, which emphasizes the complications of class structure and economic disparity. While some people count pennies, others just leave the coins lying on the ground.  A wheat penny however, is more valuable than a regular penny. Produced between 1909 and 1958, wheat pennies come in many different forms and in smaller quantities as a result of material shortages due to World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II. Many collect these rare and diverse coins as a testament to the struggles of the time period. This simple detail of value actualizes in the canvas. Dark, dripping, and magnified, this penny speaks “e pluribus unum” (Latin for “from many, one”), calling out the misrepresentation of the sense of unity in the United States. 

 

Gargiulo intends for the installation to yield questions. Question the representation of self, property, and economic movement. Individual identity and experience charge the black and white atmosphere of Gargiulo’s exhibition with energy that lingers beyond the time spent in the exhibit. Repetition ignites a conversation.

 

Installation view of Ash Moniz, 2015

The humming of a lawn mower and blowing desert wind welcome viewers to Ash Moniz’s show at ROY G BIV Gallery. Moniz’s installation features videos, photographs, and sculpture, all of which share a theme of mobility. The inclusion of two video pieces provides a sound to guide the mental voyage from Toronto to Morocco, then to China, and then back to the airport. Moniz, a self-described “third culture kid,” has lived in five distinct countries. As a result of this worldview, Moniz questions the concepts of “movement and situatedness.” The prankish humor of Moniz’s works attracts and further draws attention to the deeper questions within his pieces.

 

Ash Moniz, still from Temple Swap, 2014, video

In his video Temple Swap, Moniz documents his performance of attaching a piece of a demolished Chinese temple onto a replica temple built in Ouarzazate, Morocco. The replica temple was built for the filming of Martin Scorsese’s movie Kundun. In the video, Moniz mixes close-ups of the temple, sounds of muffled wind, and scenes of birds flying through the frame. Altogether, this combination provokes a sense of abandonment. By including shots of tourists in the video, Moniz emphasizes the empty function of the temple. Moniz infuses vitality and spirituality by joining the history of an actual temple to the replica. Visible in the background, other historically themed film sets stand abandoned, exactly like the temple, which creates a neighborhood of once relevant replicas. Temple Swap functions as a modern rendition of Percy Shelley’s famous poem “Ozymandias,” which tells a simple irony that the story, not the physical presence, is everlasting. Moniz’s work unifies the authentic and the imitation. In Temple Swap, Moniz sets the history of a culture within the actuality of its remaining influence. Engaging the replica with an authentic piece of Buddhist history frames the idea of imitation and the globalization of an image. 

 

Ash Moniz, installation view of Alchemy of Context, 2014, bronze and suitcase

The tail of an airplane out of focus in the background of Temple Swap transitions into the next piece, a suitcase sculpture, Alchemy of Contexts, placed open on the floor. At first the suitcase seems empty, but Moniz, draws on the role of the suitcase and what it carries. Moniz made a plaster mold of the rubble of a demolished home in China and packed the plaster in a suitcase traveling to Canada. Then, he removed the mold and casted it in bronze. Returning the cast to the suitcase, Moniz redefines the role of the suitcase and the cast, constructing one sculpture. Moniz, in Alchemy of Contexts, obscures and highlights the change in meaning of an object within different situations.

 

Moniz ridicules airport security and carry-on restrictions in the photograph diptych Carry-on Allowance. Moniz noticed that flight regulations state that a passenger may carry up to 10 kg of baggage on the plane, so he decided to carry on exactly 10 kg of barbell weights and nothing else. In the left photo, Moniz documents his travel through security with the four 2.5 kg weights. Moniz depicts his plane right in the right photograph with the passenger next to him filling the traveling time with a book. In comparison with reading, Moniz’s action of holding 10 kg of weight for the duration of the flight is useless. With no relevant function or means of entertainment, the weights are simply dead weight. These photos open a discussion: what is the meaning of the 10 kg you choose to carry with you from one country to the next? Moniz enhances the value of what an individual carries while traveling by proving that the weight of 10 kg does not suffice as a functioning description. Weight does not quantify usefulness.

 

The video, Lagrangian Lawn challenges viewers to follow a Uhaul truck that is transporting a lawn through downtown Toronto. The lawn travels through the city as Moniz mows inside the truck. In the video, Moniz points out the lack of green space in the city, while also emphasizing the idea of a commonly sedentary image turned mobile. Through this risky prank, Moniz offers a dialogue of displacement and the perspective of mobility.  Humorously, through this video, Moniz demonstrates his curiosity and his desire to catalyze curiosity in others.

 

Moniz utilizes humor and absurdity to convey his ideas in this exhibition. Questioning location, function, and meaning, Moniz asks viewers to think critically after a few laughs. Moniz, in his videos, sculpture, and photographs, takes viewers with him in attempts to challenge the norm of traveling and transportation. The installation illustrates that an aware worldview results from investigating how location and movement affect the role of the individual.

 

Gargiulo’s show implicates the position of an individual within society concerning class structure and property.  Moniz’s show employs humor to investigate an individual’s placement, movement, and relation to globalization. Together the two shows prompt the re-thinking of everyday issues in a not-so-everyday way. Leaving the gallery this month, viewers find themselves reconsidering their placement within society on a personal, local, and global scale. 

 

By Jenna Ellis

Stefan Hurtig: Release, Release

6:03 pm, July 1, 2015 in Blog, News, Photography by Ken Aschliman

hurtig-for-web

 

Stefan Hurtig, Still from Double Make-Up, 2015

 

ROY G BIV Gallery presents the work of Stefan Hurtig for a one-night exhibition on Tuesday, July 28, from 7–10 pm

 

Stefan Hurtig is a video artist based in Leipzig and Berlin, Germany. His video installations and performances explore the influence of digital image culture on the conception of the self. He is especially interested in subversive forms of visual representation, e.g. masquerade, disguise and veiling. 

 

This exhibition concludes Hurtig’s three-month residency in the Artist Exchange Program, a partnership between the Greater Columbus Arts Council and the Cultural Foundation of the Free State of Saxony.

 

http://www.stefanhurtig.de/

 

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