Jul 11 2008
Carmine Iannaccone: “Useable Histories” at SolwayJones
by Shana Nys Dambrot
One enters the room to find about twenty squat and mottled, rough-edged rounded objects resembling large stones scattered around the painted grey concrete floor. They are arranged in a loose constellation of clusters, occasionally touching or partially heaped together but mostly as separate as islands in a stream. The installation evokes the famed Ryoanji Temple rock garden in Kyoto?a triumph of patient attention and asymmetrical balance whose name means Temple of the Peaceful Dragon, and whose minimalist design is often compared to abstract art.
The objects in the gallery are of course new sculptures by Los Angeles artist Carmine Iannaccone from the series Eccentric Boulders. Each is either a large (17 x 17 x 9 inches) or small (10 x 10 x 3 inches) polychromed hardwood-plywood metonymy. Put simply, in constructing his forms Iannaccone approximates the processes of nature, linking geological formations to the human body metaphorically while engaging in a related strategy to build the objects themselves. Pursuing a kind of phenomenological anatomy of the earth, he starts with identical templates of different sizes, uses an industrial jigsaw to cut out a number of pieces, arranges them in twisted stacks and layers more or less according to a promotional formula, the laminates them as blocks to hold the forms together and seal their grainy surfaces. After the basics are thus built he then hand-carves each one so they become unique, and finally he paints the uneven surfaces, gesturally, and intuitively approximating the caprice of natural elements and referring to the effects of experience on a person’s countenance. The jagged, intricately (and eccentrically) variegated results have no claim to the illusion of realism, though at a distance the effect holds up. On closer inspection, the reddish striations, bluish haloes, and quietly insistent density of details that reveal themselves expose the artifice of their construction and the evidence of the artist’s hand. But the artist is not just waxing poetic, his efforts also take art history in account, referencing not only idyllic landscape genres but also early modern conceptualism and the return of craftsmanship to the contemporary discourse.
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