If Prince could declare himself as a symbol, then artist John Fleischer can certainly do the same with an art exhibit, if you ask us. This Friday, the third show at new Air Sweet Air Gallery in Lowertown continues the space’s track record for hosting thoughtful, high quality exhibits. In ∆ , Fleischer wraps his mind around the axis mundi (the symbolic center) and delves into a conceptual storyline that seems to be both visceral and intricate at the same time–perhaps even a little bit “out there”. Hence, to some, the exhibit’s concept, as well as Fleischer’s thoughts on it below, may feel a bit hard to approach. But we always say that art, at its core, is “what you make of it” and challenging yourself to think with an exhibit such as this, may be just the ticket to an evening of interesting conversation, or at the very least, a memorable visual impact (and who can argue with that?). Fleischer’s exhibit is filled with a variety of media, including sculpture, installation, drawing, projection, sound and more, so expect a full experience!
We asked the artist a few pressing questions pertaining to the exhibit, with opens this Friday, March 23rd, from 7-10pm at Air Sweet Air in Lowertown.
What is the basis for ∆?
My current research is guided by an interest in the cultural role of the transformation narrative. Many of these narratives revolve around an image of the symbolic center, the omphalos, the axis mundi. This image often manifests as a mountain, ladder, or tree; it is sometimes represented in human form. At its essence, the image describes a location organized around a point of transition. It is here where earth meets sky, where body and mind interact, where self encounters other. I am inspired by the regenerative opportunities these stories offer when viewed as models for engaging the perpetual change of ordinary existence. Over the last few years I have drawn on these narratives to realize a series of speculative works that explore the relationship between notions such as impermanence and regeneration, immediacy and inaccessibility, growth and decay.
How would you describe your work when speaking in terms of medium? What do you most like to work with?
I tend to describe my work as sculpture. However, my studio practice supports ongoing investigations into drawing, painting, sculpture, sound, and video. The products of these investigations are arranged into installation-like compositions along with ordinary, utilitarian objects (e.g. light-sockets, hot-plates, bedpans) and accumulations of organic materials (e.g. avocado skins, rotting fruits and teas, earth). Networks of low, horizontal platforms (e.g. small wooden tables, heating pads, blankets, yoga mats) provide the organizing structures for the works. These forms direct the gaze downward, literally grounding the visual experience. Vertical trajectories counter this downward pull with a complementary upward motion. A variety of everyday objects (e.g. glass bottles, tin cans, emesis basins, cardboard and wooden boxes) are used to introduce containment and nesting gestures into the works. Often, containers act as sites of transformation. A glass jar, for example, contains a serving of tea, which then develops a skin of mold during the life cycle of the exhibition; a mixture of salt water and steel wool slowly decays into rusty sludge within the confines of a plastic storage bin. In addition to containment gestures, strategies such as layering, bleeding, and illumination highlight a primary focus on impermanence and regeneration.
How do you think the works you create communicate?
These diverse forms are organized into relationships that reflect signs and themes common within the transformation narrative. Each work is an image of transition. The image emerges at the exhibition level, exists for the duration of the event, and then dissolves.
For more information on the exhibit, which opens this Friday, March 23rd from 7-10pm and runs through April 15th, visit the Air Sweet Air website HERE.