Front Room Gallery

ART QUIPS A NEW GENERATION OF UNCOMMON PERSPECTIVES February 2, 2009 by dante2

ART QUIPS

A NEW GENERATION OF UNCOMMON PERSPECTIVES

February 2, 2009

Erik Guzman at Front Room | Review by David Gibson

Every artist these days has more than a simple aesthetic, they have their own mythology to promulgate. It’s as if they want to present their art work not only as an example of their creative qualifications, but to manifest elements across the spectrum of their artistic history as individuals. The determination of quality being highly subjective, we are required to engage ourselves with the work on hand to such a degree that its mythos becomes evident.

In the drawings and sculptures of Erik Guzman, we are presented with work which depends upon, and in some cases actually produces, a light source. Think of the light bulb going off in the thought balloon of a cartoon character. Other sources of light are less allegorical but no less mimetic, such as the sun pacing its track across the sky, developing a notion of transience and duration even as it falls prey to the same immutable forces. The sense of alarm, an interruption of daily life to manifest a sense of eventfulness, is the paramount element in any of these circumstances. Light as controlled by man often has an illuminating (sic) aspect which its natural origin does not. Guzman’s sculptures and bas-relief drawings are unique in my experience of art. They seem to have emerged out of the genre of Science Fiction, specifically one in which hieroglyphics and celestial machines both have a place. I can see references to films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Tron, and The Terminator. Yet I also relate them to Walter M. Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz and Frank Herbert’s Dune. Each of these works of literature or film, and the narrative subgenres to which they belong, presents us with a highly mythologized view of reality.

What Guzman’s work shares with them is his love of the opaque and the mysterious. In Clarke’s (and later Kubrick’s) masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey, we are given an alternate timeline to history in which an ominous presence, floating on the edges of humanity’s experience since the days of the caveman, makes itself known. The monolith object operates as a sort of cenotaph on man’s road into the future, marking a flashpoint at which a certain detour must be observed, in order that at least one destination be reserved for persons other than mankind. On the way to this moment, a series of transformations take place through which we are made to feel overwhelmed by transcendent powers. But what takes precedence in the perception of such events is also evident in Guzman’s work: an understanding of manifest visual conditions that overwhelm logic. The mythology evident in Guzman’s oeuvre takes two routes: the narrative of epics and the mystery of symbols. One may choose either route from which to find meaning. The narratives are oblique yet dynamic, and are etched in horizontal glass panes which sit on little ledges hung on the gallery walls to the left of the first room, and on the right are a set of hanging structures which are illuminated from within but seem to have the glass panes suspended behind cloth strips, so that light passing through them creates a subtle shadow resembling a watermark. The specific markings in the glass panes are oblique to say the least, and feature epic scaled sites which house events of metaphysical or spiritual grandeur: what appears to be either an endless building or a road stretching to infinity, interrupted by a swarm or infestation of small flowing creatures which seem vaguely elemental, as they are accompanied by glowing stars and seem to appear out of a rift in space. A more common figure is the silhouette of a man’s form, just his upper torso and head, with light emanating from him as he travels through a series of labyrinthine spaces toward a grand godlike figure whose own silhouette seems to merge with the fabric of reality, becoming less present while at the same time all-powerful. Guzman’s sculptures, which are installed together in a second room, are arranged so that the physical space needed for each, and its own projecting light, does not interfere with the others. As one walks around the room one discovers that the programmed movements of each is generated by a motion dictator, as if we were interlopers in a strange crypt. The machines themselves seem to be fashioned from a combination of metal and ceramic material, and they utilize a lot of open space, with portals in the surface so that one can look into the machine as it operates its specific and oblique function. All the metal parts are shiny and gleam in the aura of their own illumination. Approach one machine and the moving part arcs back and forth, with a light inside of it flashing on and off with a dreamy regularity that is almost serpentine. Another starts revolving very quickly, while another seems to fold up into itself, like an armadillo. The intermingling of a passive mythological element with the dynamic cultural content of wireless entertainment most commonly used in video games but having implications far beyond them is what gives Guzman’s work its rigor. We have always looked to machines for knowledge. The difference between actual machines such as the microwave and the Walkman, and imaginary ones such as jet-packs and laser guns, is often a matter of degree. Each of them extends the reach of what man can do. One of the implications of such far-reaching ability is that it will begin to resemble godlike proportion. The machines in Erik Guzman’s art are like a new species, making the first uncertain gestures into existence, instinctually marking space and extending the range of metaphor for how we see ourselves. Perhaps God is nothing more than a well-designed machine. If so, Guzman helps us to see the light.

Who made Who { Show @ Front Room } by dante2

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Press Release

The Front Room gallery is pleased to present “Who Made Who” a solo exhibition of sculptural work and drawings by Erik Guzman.  This September Guzman will unveil an impressive body of new work that is a realization of artifacts and ideas from a self-composed mythology.  Kinetic, light emanating sculptural work paired with delicately detailed etched glass drawings, illustrate Guzman’s mythos of the machine. Featured in this exhibition will be three sculptural works which incorporate dazzling light, polished aluminum and plexiglass; activated by the presence of a viewer, rhythmic light patterns consume the architecture of the gallery as spinning wheels cast long swirling shadows across the floor and onto the walls, that gradually form, take over the space and then subside.

The accompanying etched glass plates exemplify Guzman’s aesthetic, which combines graphic icons, church architecture and components from Japanese patterns and temples. Guzman’s ethereal etched glass panels exist in the minute space fractions of an inch from the wall. The etching is transparent, the glass all but invisible, but the fine lines cast unearthly graphic imagery onto the wall, the drawing is made from the diffusion of light, sharp lines defined from shadow.

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Photos by Sean Hemmerle

Who Made Who {the making of} by dante2

The images below show the development and creation of the work for my second solo show at front room gallery," Who made Who". Press Release

The Front Room gallery is pleased to present “Who Made Who” a solo exhibition of sculptural work and drawings by Erik Guzman.  This September Guzman will unveil an impressive body of new work that is a realization of artifacts and ideas from a self-composed mythology.  Kinetic, light emanating sculptural work paired with delicately detailed etched glass drawings, illustrate Guzman’s mythos of the machine. Featured in this exhibition will be three sculptural works which incorporate dazzling light, polished aluminum and plexiglass; activated by the presence of a viewer, rhythmic light patterns consume the architecture of the gallery as spinning wheels cast long swirling shadows across the floor and onto the walls, that gradually form, take over the space and then subside.

The accompanying etched glass plates exemplify Guzman’s aesthetic, which combines graphic icons, church architecture and components from Japanese patterns and temples. Guzman’s ethereal etched glass panels exist in the minute space fractions of an inch from the wall. The etching is transparent, the glass all but invisible, but the fine lines cast unearthly graphic imagery onto the wall, the drawing is made from the diffusion of light, sharp lines defined from shadow.

Erik Guzman has been active as an artist in Williamsburg, for 9 years. Among many professional accomplishments are his LMCC GAPS grant award, Cue Foundation residency, LMCC space grant, a Joan Mitchell nomination. He has exhibited nationally at Smack Mellon, El Museo Del Barrio (S Files), Front Room Gallery, Soap Factory, Hillwood Museum, Dumbo Art Festival, The Kitchen, Exit Art, St. Marks Church Gallery.  International exposure includes shows at Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, El museo de arte de Caguas, El Museo de Las Americas, Gallery Tezz, Tokyo,  Japan.  Erik Guzman is also a founder of Goliath visual space, a nonprofit artist run organization, which has served as both protagonist and presenter of emerging artist since 1998.

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The thing for the thing.  Very important piece.

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The second prototype

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The art production begins. aka, "time to make the donuts"

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Shell creation

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Profile jig

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First out of five profiles needed to complete the shell.

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The profile knifes

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The not so finished piece.

Then sand, sand, sand, sand..... you get the idea.  Then sand some more.

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Pure chaos.  I can not explain the part of the project.

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Daniel helps me test the shell.  Did not fall on the floor. Good sign.

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Install begins.

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Nicolas helps with install.  Many thanks.

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Shelves by Nils.  Craftsmen extraordinaire.

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Front Room Gallery Summer Sampler Show by dante2

The Front Room PresentsSummer Sampler July 11th-August 2nd Reception: Friday July 11th, 7-9pm Viewing hours: Fri-Sun 1-6 and by appointment

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The Front Room Gallery is proud to present "Summer Sampler", a tantalizing treat featuring works by the last season's Front Room artists as well as a preview of the shows to come, and some splendid new selections.

Amanda Alic and Ethan Crenson, film a new installment of their October 3rd videos every year. For Summer Sampler they will offer October 3rd, 2007. The couple set up outside of the New York Public Library and asked passers-by to tell us a joke in any language. Polish, Hebrew, German, Wolof, Spanish, Hungarian, Serbian, Pular, Igbo, Farsi, French, Russian, Norwegian and, of course, English speakers have offered jokes since the project began in 2001. The project seems to suggest the rigor of a conceptual exercise, but the subject has a less austere quality. The jokes may not be universal, but the telling of them has a quality seems so.

Sasha Bezzubov and Jessica Sucher's series "The Searchers" examines various aspects of Western spiritual tourism in India and features large scale photographs taken at sites including the Osho Meditation Resort in Pune, the Divine Life Society in Rishikesh, and the Mahabodi Temple in Bodh Gaya. Bezzubov and Sucher investigate the lure of India's rich religious history in utopian communities, yoga centers, and meditation retreats that cater to Western seekers. Engaging with the visitors of these locations and immersing themselves in the subculture of spiritual experimentation, Bezzubov and Sucher create spatially astounding images that encompass the visual strangeness and cultural collisions of this phenomenon. "The Searchers" consists of several series of photographs that present these themes through portraiture, landscape and abstraction.

Greg Curry, In his paintings Gregory Curry has invented a new biology. The behavior of the organisms from Curry's world of super day-glow greens and oranges is seemingly put under the microscope and we become privy to the existential struggle they endure. This nebulous environment might shroud their identities, but their purposes are often much clearer than their scale or surroundings. They are refugees, assassins, congregations of similar organisms and menacing loners. In these paintings the body has been expanded, contracted, manufactured, reworked and jettisoned. These paintings utilize familiar modes of representation: rendering, classic spatial relationships and perspective to familiarize these forms in spite of the taxonomic meltdown they are undergoing.

Lisa DiLillo's video and photography series entitled Encounters both focus on similar themes. The photographs depicts situations occurring along the increasingly porous borders between "natural" and human habitats. A cultural cross-contamination occurs as both worlds are altered by the presence of each other.

Erik Guzman, Erik Guzman's artworks consist of a multitude finely cut parts of aluminum, glass and plastics. Each of these material elements converge to create mechanical devices that rotate, point, generate sound, and illuminate without obvious or logical results. A marriage between craft and movement allows for an aesthetic to evolve that is independent of the two.

Sean Hemmerle, In Hemmerle's photographs the political situations are remarkably tangible in the landscape-the often sad and complex stories embodied. In these solitary, forsaken landscapes the streets are often dead ends marked by a cul-de-sac, a massive and improbable wall bisecting the street and blocking our visual lines. Hemmerle's photos show the physical manifestation of ideological differences and the political desperation, that once deemed intractable, are made concrete and expressed through the architecture. By photographing international zones of contention he shows the landscape of discord, and the architecture erected for this specific division.

Melissa Pokorny, By using overtly artificial means to represent space, coupled with uncannily realistic animal figurines and casts, Pokorny questions our estrangement from, and subsequent longing for connection to the natural world, and the resulting substitution of the real by the fake.

Alan Packer's extensive and impressive body of work examines elemental and cultural ideas. Packer relates his experiences and travels through large-scale sculptures that revive lesser known cultural ideas. His travels have taken him to the northern regions of the Arctic circle, cultural centers of Paris and New York, the Rocky mountains, the wilderness of Banff and ancestral Wales. During his extended stays in these communities Packer broadened his cultural ideas, incorporating theirs into his own. His elegant constructions combine industrial materials with elements that reference natural world, unifying the mechanical world of industry's focus on rigorous time keeping and the less tangible system of the life cycle in nature.

Sante Scardillo, Through his work with newspaper articles, headlines, and magazine advertisements Scardillo reclaims the public space the media uses for their marketing, and exposes a hidden message of compliance. He questions both their strategies and implied political aims. In his work Scardillo uses found text and images from the media and alters them, completely changing their perceived meanings. Scardillo's work brings the hidden meaning to the forefront, and uses the glossiness against itself, or simply isolates headlines, effectively creating cultural slogans.

Philip Simmons merges contours of American imagery, defining new icons for this century. His elegant silhouetted forms revel in the machismo culture so particularly American with the glorification of the wild west, gunfights between cowboys and indians, soldiers, and ultimately war. These glamorous shapes, of super high-gloss resin take us back to a simpler time of drive in movies and enameled gas station signs with logos of roaring tigers and Pegasus. Their content, however, is not lemonade stands and sock-hops. They are violent and aggressive, their radiant surfaces depicting savage animal attacks, gun fights, and bomb blasts.

Patricia Smith's meticulous, quietly subversive works on paper commingle elements of architectural drawings, medical illustrations, and antique maps. Labeled with text captions, these imaginary structures address the anxieties of contemporary life and the coping mechanisms that develop in the collective psyche.

Mark Stilwell uses painted and reclaimed packaging, byproducts of the over-consuming society he portrays, in this scene of terror. Crowds of paper cut-out citizens run screaming from the devastation and hostile creatures that are overtaking the city.

Edie Winograde, Winograde's photographs tap into an American cultural memory, a visual memory created not so much through historical study but by television, movies and Western paintings. Place and Time creates a portrait of the present-day phenomenon of the reenactments as well as an impression of historical and legendary events, blurring the boundaries between now and then, history and imagination.

For more information please contact: Daniel Aycock (718) 782-2556.

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