John Hurrell – 18 March, 2021
Fascinating objects to look at—and not as frame-oriented as Arps has been in the past—the forms seem to reference the occurrence of various ferocious debates within the artworld: the dissemination, circulating and defending of controversial ideas. Some suggest artists are metaphorical drivers of forklifts and trucks loading up and transporting concepts to newly receptive (spatially separate) audiences.
The Floral Maze
11 March - 10 April 2021
Presented in Lett’s street level space, Dan Arps‘ show of five wall relief sculptures is typically made of cast polyurethane and acrylic paint. Bold, chunky and ostensibly ‘simple’ with their symmetrical composition, they vaguely allude to Donald Judd, Jasper Johns, Minimalism, folksy woody surface textures and (I think) to a whole host of unanticipated ruminations about idea conveyance (and the defence) of contested meaning. The latter via tropes referencing pallets (The Floral Maze, Equivalent) for carrying goods (one pallet thick, the other thin) and horizontal weapon slots (Baffling, Disney Security II) found in military fortifications or castle battlements.
Fascinating objects to look at—and not as frame-oriented as Arps has been in the past—the forms seem to reference the occurrence of various ferocious debates within the artworld: the dissemination, circulating and defending of controversial ideas. Some suggest artists are drivers of metaphorical forklifts and trucks loading up and transporting concepts to newly receptive (spatially separate) audiences.
The zig-zagging forms that resist sieges present sawtooth protuberances, angular projections with sharp edges that warn you to stay away. They symbolise perhaps the passionate defending of intellectual positions, the pushing away and rejection of counter-arguments. One stack of horizontal ‘slots’ (Baffling) seems like three piled-up mouths, while the other (Divided Base), of two vertical corners, speaks of a split and visually implies modernist architecture.
In their coloration most of these works are a robust assertive chocolatey, dark umber. One (Equivalent) however is a glowing, hot, reddish orange that leaps out at you, and the other (Divided Base) a translucent pale grey with mottled patches of faint brown peeking through. The spatula-applied thin grey snuggles into and blends back into the supporting walls.
Apart from the grey work, these large seductive sculptures look as if they are made of Plasticine that is abundant in lumps, squashed globs and pummelled drips. They emphasise a brushed-on (like encaustic), viscous dribbly surface with soft ‘oozy’ edges, copious roughly parallel striations and wood-grainy swirls that are drawn with a dragged compass.
While an earlier artist like Donald Judd once strived to make work that was neither sculpture or painting, but in between, Arps has a practice that here (omnivorously) attempts both—avoiding rejection. These are painterly and sculptural. (Never industrial looking like Judd.) A fascinating and absorbing exhibition.