Paul Kasmin Gallery is currently hosting Farewell Transmission, a two-venue exhibition of recent sculpture by Roxy Paine, for the artist’s first major New York solo exhibition in three years and the first of his sculpture with Paul Kasmin.
Over the past 25 years, Paine’s sculptures ruminate upon the clash of the human and the natural worlds, and the warring of chaos and control that result from humanity’s attempts to manage the process. Farewell Transmission presents two distinct series, Dioramas and Dendroids; each express the artist’s anxieties about the human impact on our habitat and the mechanized tools that seek to impose order and control, often to disordered and unpredictable ends.
In his Dioramas, Paine adopts and adapts a format familiar within the natural history museum, but instead of employing human artifice to represent the natural world, Paine’s Dioramas use organic materials to represent quotidian environments where the fundamental states of the Homo Sapien can be observed. Rooted in the Greek language, diorama translates to “through that which is seen.” Paine’s Dioramas are a device through which one can examine our own habitat, culture and society. Seemingly innocuous at first, each Diorama presents a room devoid of actual figures, yet charged with their psychological dilemmas.
Meeting (2016) is the artist’s most intimate in scale from the series, and implies through attentive details such as a ring of non-descript office chairs, the community space that hosts one of the variety twelve-step substance abuse programs.
Experiment (2015) the only diorama of an actual historical event, though one for which we have no photographs, depicts the setting of a 1950s-70s CIA surveillance program examining the effects of LSD.
Looking at this hallucinatory experience through another surveilling environment heightens the paranoid feelings of control, manipulation and misguided forensic observation. Personal associations and past encounters with these familiar spaces inevitably creep into the imagined scenes of the Diorama, collapsing the distance between the viewer and that which is on view.
In Desolation Row (2017) a remarkable new work, Paine synthesizes the tree silhouettes of the Dendroids, the simulation of the Dioramas and the expansiveness of his earlier Fields series to replicate nature in solitude and at its most poignant moment.
Returning to the motif of the tree, Paine presents them in Desolation Row as charred, barren, and destroyed. Positioned across a 13-ft table, Desolation Row is an unflinching portrayal of the infinite cycle of control and chaos reaching its devastating yet paradoxical conclusion where Paine leaves the question of renewal to be resolved.
Fusing organic forms, such as trees, flowers, and fungi with man-made structures and materials among which include stainless steel, epoxy, and polymer, Paine invents, distorts, surprises and confounds our perception of the natural and inorganic and the real and artificial.
The new Dendroids, Paine’s first iteration in over 5 years of his iconic stainless steel sculptures, further expand upon this multifaceted, yet imperfect, transformation of the industrial into the natural, with even more daring grafting, beguiling engineering, and wild experimentation.
In the new works, tree trunks, branches and roots intertwine with lungs and hearts, or with electricity poles and debris and detritus.
Ground Fault (2016) poetically melds a tree’s roots and trunk with two transformers that are used to circulate electromagnetic energy. Paine’s Dendroids continue to reveal the intrinsic affinities and twisted connectivity of a tree’s form with other plant, human and man-made systems.
Roxy Paine: Farewell Transmission, will be on Exhibit Through July 1st, 2011 at Paul Kasmin Gallery’s Locations at293 and 297 Tenth Avenue, at 27th Street, in the Chelsea Gallery District.