Jack Strange: Deep Down: Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery is pleased to present Deep Down, the gallery’s second solo exhibition of work by British artist Jack Strange. The sculptures, drawings, collages and mixed media installations that compose the show seek to create a visual metaphor for the consciousness that permeates the physical world, and Strange takes us on an Alice in Wonderland-like journey in the process. Peeling back our preconceptions, Strange reveals the marvelous in the mundane.
In the entry space, U.S. $1, 5,10, 20, 50, and $100 bills have been cut and reassembled into quirky creatures, evoking questions about value and the quantification of our world. We commonly encounter symbolic characters in everyday objects, but in these works and throughout the exhibition, Strange finds such characters lurking in more obscure, unlikely places. Given the minute scale of the currency collages, the artist urges us to get close and be drawn in. This act of drawing the viewer in is continued in Staring into Seeing, where the audience is encouraged to put on headphones and follow instructions about how to stare at the blank white wall. What feels like an exercise is meant to focus our attention on the act of seeing, including the mechanism of the eyes and the involuntary actions of our bodies.
In Consciousness Combi 1 and Consciousness Combi 2, Strange employs television monitors and vitrines filled with water to elegant, hypnotic, Op-Art effect. Refracted light gently bends around colored rods, brown elastic reminiscent of hair strands or twigs floats or sinks in the water to create a visual dissonance within ordered lines of color. Strange likens this to how a city or forest changes under different light conditions, and how light affects feeling. It can furthermore be considered as a metaphor for the concept of consciousness.
In many works, Strange challenges the phenomenological, the idea that reality consists of objects and events as they are understood in human consciousness. He seeks to illustrate a subjective understanding of the world, be it human or otherwise. The artist projects character into vegetables and other inanimate objects to develop an alternate logic and structure, and to touch upon the oblique nature of these bodies and their alien aspects. In this exhibition, thoughts and ideas are revealed to be emotional, even visceral.