Lawrence Asher Gallery presents sculptor Joe Davidson and painter Christopher Lawrence Mercier, both at the fore-front of mixed-media disciplines. By combining new sculptural techniques with innovative, as well as traditional application of materials, they advance the practice of dimensional painting and the construction of art objects. Quite ambitiously, they both use their creations as models and mirrors of society and contemporary art practices. Please take time to read the artists' statements below that offer an eloquent description of techniques and objectives, all of which can then be seen in the brilliantly executed body of work in this special exhibition.
Joe Davidson :
My body of work consists of sculpture and large-scale installations made of cast everyday consumerist objects. These objects are produced in multiples with mundane materials such as scotch tape, paper pulp, and plaster. I try to achieve a level of mass production of the objects even though all are handmade. Most of the work is monochromatic, driven largely by the inherent quality and symbolism of the material used. I work as if on an assembly line, churning out the same image, looking for eventual meaning. My repetitive and seemingly meaningless actions are explored symbolically as reflections of the passage of time, emotional isolation, and escapist fantasy. The compulsive or obsessive acts required to create the pieces necessitate the omission of other perhaps more traditionally meaningful or useful activities. The viewer is asked to contemplate this notion of what has been lost through the time consuming details of the piece.
There is a qualitative gap, however slight, between the original and the cast object. There is a peculiarity, a lack of life, to a cast object that I find meaningful. There is also autonomy within the cast object, a sense that this is now an object unto itself, separate from the original. It becomes distinct as a new object in the world while referencing its source. It is with these objects that I consider the consuming repetitive acts of daily living. I do not attempt exact replicas of an original object; I create shadows of the original. The work I make responds to the sometimes overwhelming stream of daily chores and consumerist choices we experience in our domestic lives.
Whether the product is a still life created in Scotch tape or a bouquet composed of plaster flowers, I look to the fantastic as a goal in my work. The work is intensely representational in content but without clearly assigned meaning, thus creating a disquiet. In this way I think in a surrealist vein, looking to traditional figures like Eva Hesse and Piero Manzoni and contemporary figures like Robert Gober and Matthew Barney. The juxtaposition of the seemingly simple streamline objects with this disquiet adds a powerful force to the work, again symbolic of the contrast between the emotional life which defines us as humans and the compulsions and minutia that compose our daily lives.
Christopher Lawrence Mercier:
‘PAINTING TOWARDS FORM – The space between painting, sculpture and architecture'.
These works are a continuation of my interest in contemporary abstraction, spatial imagination and the relationship of painting, sculpture and architecture. It is through their formation and experience as visual tools that I attempt to engage the unfolding of contemporary experience. The works focus on exploring and testing spatial opportunities through form, space, color and texture.
The process for creating these pieces is something that I have been developing and exploring over the last 4 to 5 years. It focuses on exploring physical three-dimensional space through the act of painting as a form-making process, as opposed to the traditional three-dimensional illusionary space developed in the Renaissance. Space is physically created in the work with paint acting not only as a color pigment but also as a building medium. This involves a technique I call ‘Paint Modeling'. ‘Paint Modeling' is akin to a cross somewhere between painting, sculpting and the architectural model making process. It's both an additive as well as reductive process that allows one to play with the visual experience of color, texture and physical three-dimensional form. Paint is applied (and sometimes later removed) using various tools standard to the trade of contemporary painting. The difference here is that the paint is applied in various states of solidity, from a watery liquid, to a buttery gel, all the way to a physical solid. To achieve this solidity, paint is pre-cast into sheets or other shapes in plastic wrapped boxes. From there, once dry, it is cut like fudge with a utility knife or with scissors and then adhered to the work using silicon and/or other paints. The uniqueness of this process is just one example of the overlapping of ideas from varying disciplines mixing together to create new opportunities. Here the material of paint takes on two roles, its traditional role as a color pigment and a new role where it is actually treated almost like a construction material used to build the three-dimensionality of the surfaces.
‘Painting Towards Form' situates itself somewhere in the boundaries between painting, sculpture and architecture through both the formal characteristics created within the works as well as in the way they are created. The completed pieces help to visually breakdown preconceptions formed over the years that define and separate the various disciplines. By exploring spatial and color ideas and experiences from the various three disciplines and allowing them to commingle in an unorthodox manner, a situation is created where new and/or engaging relations not yet imagined can be stumbled upon, experienced and explored.
Christopher Lawrence Mercier was born and raised just outside Detroit , Michigan . There he completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Architecture at Lawrence University before going to study in Milan , Italy , at ‘Architecture Intermundium' under Daniel Libeskind. From there he moved to southern California , completed a Masters degree in Architecture at SCI-ARC and worked for various architects in Los Angeles including Frank Gehry. In 2002, he opened his own architectural practice, (fer) studio L.L.P. where he continues to work. His initial interests in architecture evolved out of his experiences as a young child interested in the arts. Throughout his entire life he has consistently pursued simultaneous careers in both the arts (painting, sculpture) and architecture, with numerous exhibits and shows to date. His work has always struggled to erase the separation imposed on these three disciplines by contemporary society in favor of a more ‘Renaissance' approach to spatial thinking.