Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Rising Son, Continued

You know what I like about our March Featured Artist Jesse Hensel? He doesn't just open doors, he builds them. Out of scrap and driftwood. Its a funny metaphor for the new show.

Time is a foggy thing, a thing seemingly impossible to, say, hold in your hand. I think good art is aware of this problem. I am always looking for work that conveys the movement of time while simultaneously acknowledging itself as a static or fixed thing. (For example, a book which at once tells the story of a character's entire life while at the same time collects dust on your bookshelf). The new show up in the gallery room does just this. The wild collision of innovation and empiricism in The Rising Son produces a snap-shot of Time itself, somehow causing thousands of years to suddenly become tangible and contemporary. The contradiction formed from this notion is a powerful result of the primitive modernity put forth by this show. I don't mean to attach too much complexity to the word "contemporary", I just mean that the whole thing feels present and new, even though it is saturated with bygone methods and materials. This must be what the artist means when he speaks to his art as forming "archaic bridges".

Indeed Time for me is a central theme of Hensel's overall project, and its a theme which is currently manifesting itself forcefully in the gallery. The Present, as a concept, has always been something that fascinates me if only for the fact that I do not see how it exists other than as a concept. No sooner do moments occur than do they become moments of the past. Even when people talk about the importance of living in the present, they often refer to or rely upon things they said just minutes earlier, in a way undermining themselves. Once we acknowledge this perpetual transfer of moments into the bank of time past, it becomes excruciatingly difficult to pinpoint the present. The Rising Son, by combining the forces of tradition and creative impulse, helps me grasp the present in a rather new and wonderful way.

The fleeting and elusive nature of the Present points to our experience as straddling two realms: the past lived through our memory, and the future lived through our imagination. And while I am not claiming in the least to understand the faculties of our imagination or memory, I can say that I feel more comfortable with these concepts than I do with a suddenly estranged Present that I thought I knew so well. When the expectation of knowledge is absent, we feel comfortable with our ignorance. Things that are definitively impossible to know grant us a freedom from the necessity of understanding, a necessity by which we are all in some way tortured. In unearthing this contradiction, The Rising Son achieves a self-awareness that releases us from the burden of needing to know and understand the art. While there might be a particular story behind the individual pieces, they are all constructed in such a raw yet thoughtful manner that they give us the opportunity to simply enjoy the physicality and life they exude. In enjoying those things, I end up enjoying myself. Strange how that works.

Come to The Andrews Gallery and take a break from knowing things, on us.

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