Monday, April 26, 2010

David Moore – Colere Druide at Circa

Established multi-disciplinary artist David Moore had new display at the Circa Gallery. The title of the show suggested the comic figure of an angry gnome, and, to be sure, gnomes were present, though far less the lawn ornament variety than an intriguing parody of ancient sculpted creatures. The exhibit comes across like a collection of artifacts from some mythical war between druid gnomes, conscious, mobile saws and hybridized trees. As absurd as that may sound, it's skewering of old and new variations on such themes was refreshing and, thanks largely to its various ellipses and some nice touches, proved both tactile and fascinating.

Although nothing approaching a narrative was offered, there were enough teasers to tantalize the imagination. The elements cast around the room were tokens to suggest some large and violent struggle. Such possibilities were not simply part of esoteric games though; there were references dropped to ancient myths here and there. This was the case not only for the overt presence of the gnomish figures who popped up on one end and another, but in the minotaur-like head that was perched upon a vertical trunk with a set of feet dragged behind it on rope. Perhaps the most telling, if the most ambiguous, element was the proliferation of severed limbs which were strung out on ropes across the room. The superimposition of flailed limbs carved from wood and tree hollowed of its wood to leave only bark created a spectacular display of carnage reminiscent of Senecan tragedy.

The application of motifs of violence rendered into 'nature' was carried along from one station of the exhibit to the next. Each provided a monument to a grisly encounter where victims and victors were impossible to glean. Sawdust was transformed into gore and saws, the instruments of destruction, were rendered as placards of domination. The segmented remains of the trees were huddled together, not quite touching, leaving gaps and lines that could be peered through. This was augmented by the substantial, and naturally occurring, holes which allowed the viewer a clear look inside. The interiors were delicately lit and suggestively sculpted with rib patterns on their interiors. This heavy corporeality was offset by the presence of lengthy lines of thick rope which broke up the space and made a grim circuit between the remnants of violence.

One of the most disarming aspects of the exhibit was actually the appearance of cobwebs. On two of the sculptures, they could clearly be seen with fragments of sawdust and bark caught up in them and stranded in mid-air. They offered a delicately morbid touch and an extra layer of context to the sculptures. Their apparently random nature and generation by some external force which was neither narrative nor that of the sculptor, placed the work itself into a broader context where it was further divorced from subjective intimacy and re-organized as merely another element caught in the indifference of nature.

Moore at Circa.

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