Primarily known for his wall mounted and free standing simulated wildlife hunting trophies of genetically altered animal species, multi media artist Joshua Levine has ventured into the world of bronze miniatures with his newest series My Menagerie. Levine’s fascination with man’s manipulation of the natural world has continued in this recent body of work. While the artist’s ongoing ‘Trophy’ series is directly tied to our contemporary world and the ever-reaching futuristic possibilities of cloning and genetic tampering, Levine’s toy sized bronzes recall a much earlier time. A time when imagination and artisan know-how, instead of science, were the tools to manufacture a bizarre unnatural world. Much the same way we now attempt to create order out of chaos by controlling and perfecting our environment through genetic manipulation, centuries ago mythological creatures such as the Chimera, the Baku, and the Griffin were invented as a means to feel a sense of power over the unexplained. These strange animals, like Levine’s, were mixed species in the most bizarre combinations. Mammals and reptiles, predatory and docile, all spliced together to form a whole new being. Whereas the Gods of men once held the power to create such unlikely creatures, now we turn to science to compose the impossible.
In addition to mythological creatures, Levine is deeply interested in the earliest collection and display of exotic animals practiced by royalty dating back to the Middle Ages. The ‘menageries’ consisted often of gifts from visiting dignitaries, and were meant to demonstrate the wealth and power of the sovereign. While certainly not a real life display of Chimera type fauna, the animals would have been sufficiently exotic to seem as such to the courtiers or wealthy public who viewed them. Later, the touring menagerie became popular which eventually evolved into the modern circus. The thrill of a ‘curiosity’ or ‘freak of nature’ was big entertainment then, as it still is in other facets today. With “My Menagerie” Levine grabs onto our innate fascination with the bizarre and unnatural.
Joshua Levine was born in Boston and raised in Miami. He studied at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and earned an MFA from the University of Miami. Levine has shown previously at Ambrosino Gallery in Miami, LUXE Gallery in New York, Irvine Contemporary Gallery in Washington DC, The MidTown Manhattan Art Library, Byblos in Verona, Italy, Art Basel Miami Beach, SCOPE Basel, SCOPE Miami, the Bronx River Art Center, Bronx, New York, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Miami and had the inaugural exhibit in the INSIGHT program at the Moore College of Art Design in Philadelphia, PA.