Wednesday, November 9, 2011

BEAUTY: Sculpture--Nick van Woert

Nick van Woert, Reno-born and Parsons-educated, makes sculptures that are visually simple but conceptually and psychologically complex. One of the mainstays of his oeuvre is the plaster classical statue or bust which he then dips into resin, paint, or polyurethane, rendering them nearly obsolete... perhaps he hacks at them and uses the slices to create a second piece of art, or perhaps he pours resin over them so the material pools and dries below, still attached to the bust. Inflicting a modern material onto these plaster pieces speaks to the idea of ancient classicism colliding with our current world. That collision would not make sense to the classical world, and the arbitrary nature of the material acting on the original sculptures testifies to that. It is as if he enables the modern world to deface, defile, or even vandalize the classical world. The past is helpless against it. Time continues and the past gets paved over...

Despite the arbitrary and unpredicable nature of the some of his chosen materials, there is a sense of science, a certain clinical sense or precision, of experimentation, as in a laboratory. With that in mind, van Woert also seems to be fond of compartmentalizing things, not only psychologically but literally, in long acrylic tubes. He separates, isolates, catalogs in a way...
Take a look at the first piece pictured below. Entitled "Home and Garden," these long acrylic cases contain a variety of substances that one would find in a residential garden or home. van Woert's website lists the materials the piece is composed of:

"BioDrain Grease & Waste Digester, Zep Glass Cleaner, Mr.Clean Bio-Rinse Floor Cleaner, Kool-Aid, Urethane Adhesive, Pine-Glo Kitchen & Bathroom Cleaner, Suavitel Laundry Detergent, Fiberglass Statue, Pink Lotion Hand Soap, Pine-Sol, Plastic Flowers, Salt, 1 Step Kitchen Degreaser, Orange Soda, Fabric Softener, Lysol, Chlorine, Dunkin Donuts Billboard, Burnt Wood, Hair Gel, Surveyors Vests, Glass Spheres."

By isolating these substances, some liquid, some solid, he manages to show us the strangeness as well the beauty of these materials. The artificiality of our modern world is highlighted by clinically examining these substances in this way. It is at once a fascination with and a derision of the modern world.

Top to bottom: Home and Garden; not yet titled; Animist; Natureboy; not yet titled (David); not yet titled (Venus); untitled

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