The work being presented by Jason Reppert for his exhibition Parlor Tricks at Open Source is a group of narratively driven sculptural objects. Each distinct, yet interconnected formally and conceptually, together create a Meta narrative of their own. Materials from rubber to wood were used to construct these pieces, including the use of certain “found” and recognizable “real life” objects. Yet the work retains a loose formal continuity. Although he relies on his own phantasmagoria and poetics, the literary form of the short story has long influenced Reppert. He has said of American Author Flannery O’Connor “I am particularly interested in O’Connor’s work because of her use of the grotesque, through which she reveals the ambiguous and contradictory nature of ideas pertaining to good, evil, morality and mortality. Through her unflinching descriptions of the ugliness and decrepitude of the mundane, O’Connor exhibits a peculiar ability to display the physical as a reflection of the psychological”.
Unlike much contemporary sculpture, Reppert’s constructions are of modest scale and only achieve their full effect when mounted on the wall. The use of the wall to display these objects has an isolating effect, because it removes them from interaction with other environmental elements, thus leaving them to function on their own. Despite the fact that these objects are wall-mounted, often with painted surfaces and are generally abstract, they should not be interpreted as the now typical painting/sculpture hybrid. Their conflicted relationship to the wall with which they seem comfortable yet poised for escape, as well as their raw materiality, makes them something quite their own.
Reppert states “the work I construct is the result of a longstanding preoccupation with a visual expression of the pathos and anxiety underlying the values, aspirations and ideologies of American culture. I do all of this using a quasi-narrative approach. However, the construction of the work is a very fluid process. Even if I was inspired by a specific idea or event, it is through the process of creating a piece that reinterpretation occurs, which leads to digression, mixed messages, etc.”
Reppert is a cagey artist. His intimately sized, mildly grotesque forms most often leave the viewer with a nameless sense of mild discomfort. And that is the point. Reppert is not a social satirist or critic in an obvious way. Through his work he materializes the anxiety and dread he perceives and then with a little humor he feeds it back to us through a skillful manipulation of material and form.