Monte Clark Gallery is pleased to present Modern Times, an exhibition of recent works by Roy Arden. An ensemble of paintings, video and assemblage, the works all reference the material aspects of modernity. Arden uses found objects and images as his starting point for depictions of the arrival of steam power and the internal combustion engine, plumbing, and a multitude of new conveyances: trains, cars, planes, motorised ships, and more.
The paintings made under the group heading Modern Times are all derived from stills taken from early animations such as Mickey Mouse cartoons. Arden is more interested in what the background of the paintings tell us rather than the figures—which he has erased. What we are left with is the trauma of industrial innovation, the force, speed, and new angles of vision afforded by modern conveyances. However, the paintings also reference the various new 'isms' of modern art; a plumbing system left intact after a building is destroyed is a reference to Duchamp and the ariel views afforded by Mickey Mouse's ride in an airplane remind us of Malevich's indebtedness to aerial photography.
American Primitive (2013) is a large assemblage of vintage toys most likely made by farmers. Here the modern world of metal ships, planes, trains, tractors, artillery and automobiles is rendered as a procession of rustic wooden objects—the new is represented in a medium it has made obsolete.
Two other small assemblages entitled Night Train (2012) and Noon Train (2012) collide painting and sculpture.
Jalopy (2011) is a projected video that shows a toy, wind-up Model T car designed to appear to be falling apart as it moves. The video shows the car in a smoky environment rattling back and forth across the screen as the stereo sound follows. The first minute of forward movement produces a comical effect while the second minute of reversed footage seems decidedly demonic.
Together these works echo the cataclysmic changes of early modernity and the traumas they induced, traumas that we are still working to understand in life and art.
Roy Arden's work can be found in numerous public collections in North America and Europe, including The National Gallery of Canada, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Centre Pompidou, Paris, The Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and the Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart. He has exhibited in dozens of international exhibitions from New York to Sharjah, and Berlin to Sydney. In 2007 the Vancouver Art Gallery mounted a survey show of his work covering the period 1981-2007. In 2013, Arden will exhibit in Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950 at the Hirschhorn Museum in Washington D.C..