Bao Zhe Xing Xing
On April 23rd an exhibition of new works by Jesse Small opens at Nancy Hoffman Gallery. Entitled "Bao Zhe Xing Xing," which means exploding star, or Super Nova, in Chinese, the show includes porcelain sculptures and chandeliers made of steel and plastic, and continues through June 20th. Removing gravity as a consideration for his new sculpture, the artist views the gallery as either a galactic space, or the deep sea, where gravity has no effect on the works, thus chandeliers hang from the ceiling at different heights, climb over walls, and bloom like flowers in the front gallery window.
The artist views the chandelier sculptures not as a "series drifting through space with no connection to traditional subdivisions of architecture, but as sculptures drifting through time." While the chandeliers are based in traditional 17th-18th century chandeliers, the artist says, "there is a tension between the actual location of each piece, and where it should be according to the axis of architectural space." Gone are the strictures of history, and exploding from the ceiling is a panoply of filigreed chandeliers--made of steel as well as plastic--dancing through space regardless of structural considerations. Inspired by trees in China where the artist spent a year after receiving his MFA, and another six months during 2008, the trees have an angular look, different from Western trees. These are stylized versions of trees he experienced in Jingdezhen. Composed of “fins” of sunset colors, hinged around a central axis, the chandeliers range in size from that of a softball to 48 inches in diameter.
In alignment with the architecture is an installation of porcelain figurines and an oversized mirror (approximately 4x10 feet) with a steel frame, inspired by clouds and rain, with rhythmic parallel lines surrounding the reflective surface. The figurines are ghosts inspired by “Pacman,” in small, medium and large, and glazed in several different styles. Some of the ghosts are multi-colored with loops and spirals of Chinese trucks, buses and cars. Some are glazed in gold or silver with these motifs. Others are from a series Small calls “Alphabet Soup,” letters in bright hues that do not spell words, but animate the surface of white porcelain ghosts like musical notes. Small describes these pieces as "an orchestra of props intended to combine the viewer's understanding of contemporary sculpture and classic progression as simultaneous urges.”
For the first time, the artist exhibits a series of steel lanterns in groups of three, in Chinese fashion; three different size lanterns become a community. New, too, are the framed circular porcelain tiles, which the artist created and glazed in China and the frames he carved in the United States--a fusion of East-West, not a painting, not a mirror, a visual punctuation on the wall.
If one thinks of the exhibition as an orchestral examination of ornament through the ages, both East and West, one is challenged to place Small's work into a "category." These works create their own category; they are outside conventional definition, joyfully creating a new world.
Jesse William Arthur Small was born in 1974. He received a B.F.A. from the Kansas City Art Institute, Missouri and an M.F.A. from Alfred University, Alfred, New York.
The artist’s work has been included in exhibitions at The Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art, St. Joseph, Missouri; Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Sedalia, Missouri; Des Moines Art Center, Iowa; and Schein-Joseph International Museum of Ceramic Art, Alfred, New York.
His work is in the collections of Alfred University, Alfred, New York; Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Sedalia, Missouri; and Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, Kansas.
He was a Lighton International Artists Exchange Program Recipient, Kansas City Artists Coalition, Missouri, and took his residency at Experimental Sculpture Factory, Jingdezhen, China. He has received grants and awards from Charlotte Street Foundation, Kansas City, Missouri; Kansas City Art Through Architecture in partnership with Charlotte Street Foundation, Kansas City, Missouri; and Percent for Art, Department of Cultural Affairs, City of New York.
The artist resides in Kansas City, Kansas.
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