PULSE Contemporary Art Fair
March 5 – 8, 2015
booth A15 | featuring JONATHAN WAHL
with projects from LAUREN FENSTERSTOCK + AARON T STEPHAN
In Jonathan Wahl’s recent work, Gem Drawings, small translucent objects are writ large and heroic in grand scale drawings, reveling in and magnifying the intimate lure of the gem. Imbued with layers of history, mysticism, romance, and cliché, gems rendered as kaleidoscopic abstractions become mirrors, apertures, portals—opaque reflections of unreachable, secret places. Wahl’s work exposes just how much power a little shining stone can hold over us. Gems mimic the human eye, reflecting at the surface while revealing its interior, drawing the viewer’s gaze to both a mirror and a window. Some of the drawings appear to be illustrating a translucent stone’s inner structure; upon closer approach, a further landscape emerges. A vast new geography expands before us as we peer closer inside, a precious contradiction that plays upon our innate needs to examine and connect.
Drafted in charcoal, opaque stones become deep black pools and expanses of outer space inviting us in not to explore, but to disappear. Drawings themselves are illusions—flat planes mimic space, dry, burnt material appears to be liquid and shiny. We are tempted towards the void like Narcissus, who mistakes the image he sees for another self, and falls through his own reflection only to drown. Wahl explores how we are seduced by precious stones, driven to extremes of covetousness, expenditure, even war. The cutting of a gem was once a skill known solely to the jeweler and craftsman; in the 21st century it is now the technology behind the digital age. The skills utilized by science to discover bacteria or the heliocentric solar system are the same skills used to polish a precious stone. Wahl remains captivated by these layers of history, looking and drawing, the gem always at the center.
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. from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art and an M.F.A. from the State University of New York at New Paltz.
Gazing Ball, 2015 Charcoal on Paper 62.5 x 60 inches | Rutilated Jungle, 2015 Charcoal on Paper 47.5 x 31.5 inches
project | Stalagmite, 2015. Resin, found objects, paint 4 1/2 x 5 x 4 1/2 feet
Lauren Fensterstock’s newest body of work centers on her interest in caves, spanning a sweeping array of human history from the Prehistoric to the metaphoric. Fensterstock has been widely recognized for merging incongruous historical influences as the trademark of her cut paper pieces. This newest body of work brings together the intricate shellwork of ornamental 18th century garden grottos with the organic geological accretion of natural caves. Wrought in her signature dark hue, these new mixed media assemblages take the form of ornamental stalactites and stalagmites enveloped in a thick surface of grey rubber. In turns, they evoke an aristocratic past, a primordial mystery, and an uncertain prediction for the future.
Lauren Fensterstock is an artist, writer and curator based in Portland, ME. Her work is held in private and public collections in the US, Europe and Asia and was the subject of a major solo exhibition at the John Michael Kohler Art Center in 2013. Other recent exhibitions include the Austin Contemporary (TX), the Bowdoin College Museum of Art (ME), the San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design (CA), the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art (OR), the DUMBO Art Center (NY), the Dorsky Gallery (NY) and the Oliver Sears Gallery (Ireland). Outside the studio, Fensterstock currently serves as critic at RISD. She previously served as academic program director of the Interdisciplinary MFA in Studio Arts at Maine College of Art and as interim director of the Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art. Her curatorial projects and published writings have been featured internationally. She holds degrees from the Parsons School of Design (BFA 1997) and SUNY New Paltz (MFA 2000).
AARON T STEPHAN
project | 28 Columns, 2014. Painted polycomposite 8 x 14 x 14 feet
28 Columns, featured at PULSE New York, consists of an organized stack of classical Greek columns. These simple columns carry the accumulated weight of over 3000 years of history from the Parthenon to faux Greek villas in middle-‐class suburbs across America. The overall form itself, reminiscent of Richard Serra’s Torqued Elipses, is a graceful accumulation of its parts. The result is a kind of contextualized minimalist sculpture that -‐ instead of claiming complete autonomy – embraces the historical complexities of material and form.
Aaron Stephan lives and works in Portland, Maine. His work presents a wry look at the world around him – focusing on complex web of information carried by everyday materials and objects. His work has taken form as a twenty-‐foot high table and chairs, a shelter made entirely of books, and a series of drawings reproducing iconic artworks ad infinitum. Aaron made his home in Maine in 2000, where he graduated with an MFA from Maine College of Art in 2002. He was the 2002 Marguerite Zorach fellow at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the 2005 Louise Bourgeois fellow at YADDO in Saratoga Springs, NY, and was an artist in residence in the Arts/Industry Program in Kohler, WI in 2008. His work has been featured at Decordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Samson Projects, the Portland Museum of Art, John Michael Kohler Art Center, California Center for the Arts, Farnsworth Art Museum, Weitz Center at Carlton College, Institute of Contemporary Art at MECA, DUMBO Center for the Arts, Troy Arts Center, University of Maine Museum of Art, Quint Contemporary Art, Albany Airport Gallery, Lamont Gallery at Exeter Academy, and the University of New England Museum of Art amongst others. Stephan has completed public commissions at multiple sites in Maine including Westbrook, Jackman, Dover-‐ Foxcroft, Belfast, Jefferson, Lewiston, Lisbon, Biddeford, and Portland. He recently completed commissions for Nashville, TN and Indianapolis, IN, and Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, NH.