Jonathan Wahl | Works on Paper
June 27 – July 19, 2015
artist reception Saturday, June 27 4 – 6 pm
In Jonathan Wahl’s current drawings he continues his subtle investigation of the reflection and intimacy in precious gems and objects. His work is inspired by picture agates; semi-precious stones which when cut and polished reveal what appear to be hidden landscapes or foliage within their natural matrix. Wahl super-imposes hyper-realistic landscapes onto the immense rendering of the natural one. In Wahl’s drawings what appear to be large formal renderings of gems, upon closer and more intimate inspection open to reveal not a “thing”, but a place. Striations in stone become jungle fronds and waterfalls mimic marble. Grand landscapes hidden within the stones seem no more unrealistic then a gem opening up reveal another world.
Other worlds are inferred in Wahl’s series of portraits of Pearls and black cabochons. The pearls rendered large take on the feeling of a planet or a moon. Abstracted from the tiny scale we usually admire them they invite us to image traveling there not holding them in our hand. Drafted in charcoal, opaque stones become deep black pools and expanses of outer space inviting us in not to explore, but to disappear.
The final drawing in the series is a Gazing globe, which combines reflection, reduction and escape in a misty gem like mirror drawing of a bucolic setting. The globe both reflects the leafy scene and also embodies it as if the patterning a picture agate was stretched over the sphere. The image from afar could also be taken for a planet but the planet is the place, the scene is the object. Again, asking us to find and in turn investigate a location in the object. The surface does not reveal what is inside but reverses where we might be back at us. Yet unlike gems which invite us in the globe invites us in and then denies us entry. Unfortunately none of these gems are portals to other worlds; they act like tiny prisms-imitating black mirrors and translucent eyes which reflect places we do not inhabit. They remove the viewer from the pleasure of inhabiting the reflection they see, they dissolve our existence. They are the Edens we have been cast out of the places we are forbidden and unable to return to. Glimmers of worlds now hidden from us
Jonathan Wahl lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. His pieces are in the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art (NY), The Museum of Fine Arts Houston (TX), and The Museum of Arts and Design (NY). Wahl’s recent exhibitions include: Twenty First Century Heirlooms (Racine Museum of Art, WI), RE: Position (Harbourfront Center, Toronto Canada), Defining Craft (Museum of Arts and Design, NY), His work has also been featured at The Drawing Center (NY), Museum of Fine Arts Houston (TX), and was recently in the exhibition of new acquisitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Wahl is a recipient of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Emerging Artist Fellowship as well as multiple New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships. A past artist-‐in-‐residence at Hochschule Der Kunst in Berlin, Germany, Wahl holds a B.F.A. in jewelry and metalsmithing from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art and an M.F.A. from the State University of New York at New Paltz.