Gaetano Pesce’s playful Nobody’s Perfect chair (2001) embodies diversity within standardization. Following simple guidelines, the maker pours pigmented resin into a mold to achieve a random quantity and mix of colors. The back of this chair presents an excellent example of the phenomena of Pareidolia, which encouragee you to see an image resembling a face.
The liquid resin is hardened into the furniture’s components, which are later assembled with pegs.
The ‘face’ that the back of this chair resembles is quite fun!
Photographed in the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum in Manhattan.
The first time I was exposed to the minutely-detailed and unconventionally psychedelic paintings of Philadelphia-based artist Shawn Thornton, I thought I was looking at paintings of vibrantly colorful circuit boards. It’s an easy misconception to make, I suspect. Thornton’s canvases are dense with the intersecting lines of diagram-like designs and irregular grids, which often contain images of birds, animals, people, or even the artist himself. While he’s shown extensively at the Fleisher/Ollman Gallery and Stephen Romano Gallery here in NYC — and Thornton’s work was also featured in an episode of HBO’sHigh Maintenance (which, as an aside, is a fantastically entertaining show) — but his unique artworks have a chance to gain greater exposure in the solo exhibit, Pareidolia, which includes works produced in a variety of media between 1995 and 2017, up now at Cue Art Foundation.
Since I have previously seen and written about an exhibit by artist Tahiti Pehrson which was also called Pareidolia, I know that the exhibit’s title refers to a psychological phenomenon involving a stimulus (an image or a sound) wherein the mind perceives a familiar pattern where none actually exists. This is a very appropriate title for Thornton’s body of work, and especially this expanded collection, which showcases not only paintings but also includes found-object sculptures and video installations.
There are two large assemblage sculptures in Pareidolia which remind me very much of the work of artist Matthew Dutton, whose art is always so enigmatic and captivating; like something you’d see in a fever dream. I love that Thornton can transform a combination of vintage toys, furniture and ordinary household items, like a carousel clothespin hanger, into a fantasy device that appears to have some kind of practical function or purpose.
Detail from Above Sculpture
This altar-like tableau, starring a whimsical plastic Elephant and Giraffe stuffed with tiny lights, also features antlers, tree branches, bells, padlocks, vinyl LP discs, and tiny living plants.
Serpents Egg in the Seat Of Consciousness
Many of the paintings, such as this one, feature self-portraits of Thornton hidden in the midst of other images. It turns out that Thornton’s own experiences with Pareidolia, which is evident in his hallucinatory artworks, was triggered by an undiagnosed brain tumor in his pineal gland, which he lived with for over a decade.
The above collection of small-scale paintings directly reference the artist’s experience with surgery to remove the tumor.
Green Flame Hypnosis
It is not a coincidence that these paintings resemble maps of Thornton’s psyche.
A Fracture in the Golden Mean
Paintings like these can take Thornton over a year to complete, and there are no accidental brush strokes.
Lobotomy of the Ghost Mechanics – Scarab Timetable
Brahmastra for a New Age (UFO / Time Machine)
Thornton worked on the above canvas from 2010 to 2103.
Take a look at the detail from just a couple of square inches of this painting! Unbelievable!
Come and discover the world of Shawn Thornton now at Cue Art Foundation before the show closes!
Shaun Thornton’s Pareidolia will be on Exhibit Through May 24th, 2017 at Cue Art Foundation, Located at 137 West 25th Street (between 6th and 7th Avenues) in NYC.
Geoffrey and I were taking a Saturday afternoon cruise through the many galleries whose openings we’d missed the previous Thursday, when everybody had an opening, and we stumbled into one of our favorite places, the Joseph Gross Gallery — where something unique is always going on. This is what we saw:
Pretty cool right? This is the work of California-based artist Tahiti Pehrson, who has been creating geometrical hand cut paper layered into three-dimensional structures for fifteen years. That’s right: hand cut.
Imagine how long it takes to make all of those tiny, precise cuts by hand. Talk about taking the old school approach.
Here’s a super close-up shot so you can really see the attention to detail paid to these doily-like works. I looked up the exhibit’s title, Pareidolia, because I wanted to find out if it had anything to do with actal doilies, and this is what I learned:
Pareidolia is a psychological phenomenon involving a stimulus (an image or a sound) wherein the mind perceives a familiar pattern where none actually exists. Pareidolia can cause people to interpret random images, or patterns of light and shadow, as faces.
What is funny is that after looking at the these artworks for a few minutes, I started seeing similar patterns all over, such as the above image of the heating grate on the gallery windowsill. Cool.
Pareidolia, a solo exhibition by Tahiti Pehrson, will be on Exhibit Through October 3rd at Joseph Gross Gallery / Art Now New York, Located at 548 West 28th Street, #232, in the Chelsea Gallery District.