18 October 2014

Down the rabbit hole

Words and Images: Saskia Edwards
Film Photography: Ren Scurville

Lance De Los Reyes and Rose Eken’s works seem very different.

One uses broad, untamed strokes on canvas, while the other creates meticulously intricate sculpture.

But, what they do have in common is that this is the first time they’re both going it alone in New York City.

The pair are both having their first solo exhibitions at The Hole, New York. 

The gallery’s Assistant Director Krysta Eder says despite the obvious contrasts between the artists, the works match.

“So basically both artists are more emerging artists.

“...So Lance has been making paintings for a long time but this is also his first gallery exhibition.

“So we thought they’d be a good pairing together and actually the ceramics and the paintings kind of complement each other both in colour and kind of the elemental references.”

Initially, as you enter The Hole, you’ll see thirteen large oil works from Lance. His works seem to capture visceral emotion - the paintings aren’t unnecessarily complicated and instead present more a raw and vulnerable spectrum of feeling. Looking at his paintings, it appears as though his whole process is driven by instinct.

In fact, Krysta says Lance works on the floor on raw canvas.

“Another thing I can say that’s pretty interesting is he’s a very fast painter.

“Where it is kind of, I don’t want to say inspiration, but maybe that is the right word.”

One of Lance’s key works in his Standing on the Shoulders of Giants series is a large work depicting a mythical wolf-like creature on a deep red textural background.

“For example this large red painting here when we came into the gallery was just one large red canvas and then we had the entire show hung except for this work and it was just red. 

“And then the next morning I came in and this was what he made. Which is amazing. I mean it might be the highlight of the show.

“...But it’s just very meditative. You know he kinds of sits on it for a while. He brought this here intended to be hung but without having anything on it because he wasn’t ready yet.”

Adding to the overall elemental character of Lance’s pieces are a pile of rocks in the middle of the gallery. The objects appear to reinforce Lance’s work as connecting with the very deeply natural and almost temporal parts of human existence.

In comparison, Rose’s sculptures are far more detailed. The Remain in Light exhibition provides an almost scientific arrangement of items associated with punk culture. Each piece is made from clay, painted and glazed.

“They take quite a lot of time, they are very meticulous especially when you put something in the kiln it shrinks down a little bit and she wants to make them as true to life as possible,” says Krysta.

“So she actually has to create them larger than they are anticipating the change in shape after they’re thrown.”

Rose’s works force you to contemplate things you may usually ignore; the folds in a cigarette packet, the tactility of a crushed can or the design of a bottle of soda. 

“These are things, little relics of what you see after you leave a bar or show just laying around, but she kind of captures them.”

The objects are arranged in size order. It’s almost like what an anthropological study of 21st century culture will be in the future.

“The matches, everybody loves matches,” says Krysta.

“When I go anywhere and they have take away matches everybody wants them, even if you’re not a smoker.

“There’s something about taking the matches. It’s a cool little object. I think she just does it so well. It seems so real.

“And the burnt match tips where there’s even the one piece where the sulphur had burned the tip off. I mean that’s just a fragile as they would be in real life, they just don’t leave the soot.”

And, if I can take a big leap here, Rose’s works seem to symbolise something further. That is, that we’re surrounded by so much that we don’t fully appreciate and only through recreating each piece in fine art do we acknowledge things we are often so flippant towards. Perhaps that could be said about everything we take for granted.

Either way, both exhibitions encourage deeper introspection about life, emotion and modern existence.

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