Thousand Year Old Child at Planthouse Gallery

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Glan Baldridge, Ian Cooper, and David Kennedy Cutler‘s group exhibition, Thousand Year Old Child, will be on display at Planthouse Gallery for only a few more days (Sorry, in the time it took me to write this post, the exhibition has closed); and be prepared to have your sensibilities rattled into a pleasant dissonance. Plant House is quickly building a reputation for daring exhibitions. In this case they have put three wickedly intelligent artists in aesthetic conversation with one another and the results might best be described as a meta-carnival honoring the L’enfant terrible.

From the exhibition statement:

‘Planthouse is pleased to present an exhibition featuring Glen Baldridge, Ian Cooper, and David Kennedy Cutler. While the mood of show could be labeled “abject”, these artists evince great care and craftsmanship in working in progressive and hybrid forms of printmaking, soft sculpture, paper- making, digital printing, and sheet-metal sculpture. Baldridge, Cooper, and Cutler are represented by individual artworks and styles, but they consider this exhibition a collaborative exercise they have dubbed Thousand Year Old Child.

A seemingly senseless and impossible proposition, a thousand year old child is mired in contradiction. Accumulated wisdom is the pride of adulthood. In contrast, artists are expected to perform the role of the radiant child, the youthful renegade. C.S. Lewis said, “when I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.” To be young forever is to be enlightened. Today, everyone thinks they are C.S. Lewis. Society as we know it has formed around this notion: eternal youth, fast cures, and gratification of the self at all costs. Someone else will clean up the mess. The adults have gone on permanent vacation, and no one remembered to take the trash out of the house.

But allow us to switch tenses, subjects, and sense. Allow us to leave our mess in your house. We’d like you to know something is wrong, that something happened here, but we’ve forgotten what it was. A suggestion? A statement? No, no, no… a secret: tidal waves of regret and shame, an archaeology of self-loathing, under pried up floorboards, bad bodies, shed limbs, impotent dollars, preserved food- stuffs, electric violent eye-hole peak through hole cut-offs. Cannibal culture teething for muscle milk, mother’s milk, and Prevacid. Looking worse and worse in your underwear. Is this what aging feels like? Is this what being alive is like?

We’d say this is theatre for the absurd, but you’d say it’s just a series of vignettes. Step through the gates. You’re just a tourist here (in your house) and we’ve decorated so nicely. We’d tell you to suspend your disbelief, hold it to-fucking-gether, and don’t get sick. Be cool. Definitely don’t feel compelled to enjoy yourself. If you look at it you’ve broken it, and we spent so long breaking it so bad. So come over, it’s our house now.

But we’ll give you one pointer for the trip: make it like you care, and beware the tantrum of the thousand year old child.’

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The exhibition (possibly taking it’s title from the single by the Austin band, Pure X) is not exactly a Theater of Cruelty, The Thousand Year Old Child‘s claim to the abject lies closer to our current pop-TV understanding of the term, all of the self-inflicted pain of watching any premium cable TV show (Madmen, Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, etc.) but with the pointed, painful observational humor of the post-Seinfeld meta-comedy, like some sad mashed-up episode of Game of Thrones in which Louis CK walks around talking to Ned Stark’s head.

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Glen Baldridge’s Blinds, presents artfully constructed mangled blinds.

The artwork is organized in several adjoining rooms, with vinyl banners pass-throughs between the space. The banners depict what seems to be hidden behind them, a doorway, and a metal gate (best seen in the top image). These banners authored collectively by the artists can operate as a literal and critical point of entry into the exhibition as a whole: flawlessly made without any visible signature of the hand, utilizing the print language of modern production, and operating as an overtly-fraudulent structure overlaid over the real odd, sad structures unseen in plain sight. The exhibition seen through this collective lens might be viewed as a mischievous, wry critique of the contemporary moment, broadly calling attention to our failure to achieve any real utopian result despite.. everything.

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Ian Cooper,
Cameo 2, 2011,
Pigmented cotton pulp with cast cotton ‘Froot Loops’ and applied abaca,
60 x 32 inches

Ian Cooper’s artwork operates with double entendre completing a kind of rhetorical transformation before you have fully comprehended it’s initial state. Cameo, looks at first glance like the results of eating too many fruit loops on an upset stomach, but in describing the piece, the artist draws unlikely connections between a memory of the Jack Splat Garbage Pail Kid trading card, the ectoplasm early 20th century spiritualists, and a rock cairn found on a mountain top; vomit as the penultimate the existential gesture. And since it was produced while Cooper was an artist in residence at Dieu Donne it’s so wildly well produced that even when you understand it’s painstaking mode of production it only serves to make the work more strange. Cameo is a useful cypher for Cooper’s other work in the exhibition, which are also beautifully well-made, confounding constellations of a lively and curious mind, made real.

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Ian Cooper,
Missing (nude Tinkerbell), 2014,
screen print on canvas, beeswax, linseed oil, turpentine, lanoline, tulle, jade adhesive, felt, cashmere, silk, and polyester thread on carpet,
30 x 46 x 94 inches

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 Ian Cooper,
Missing (briefs), 2014,
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Ian Cooper,
OOOOh, 2013,
Powdercoated steel, vinyl, fluorescent lights, aluminum with nylon hardware
36 x 126* x 96* inches (*width & depth variable)

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David Kennedy Cutler’s video work, Dissociative Disorder.

David Kennedy Cutler‘s presents a range of sculptural forms, and an uncanny video piece (above) where he seems to be wrestling a version of himself. All of his work is expertly, painstakingly made in a way that brings to mind artists like Charles Ray or Duchamp’s Etant donnés. And all the works seem revolve around the limitations and degradation of the body. I’m hesitant to say more than that, as both the processes used and work produced are so strange and unfamiliar that I’m left in a delighted stupor.

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David Kennedy Cutler
Commodity (5), 2014,
Inkjet on cotton sateen and aluminum,  tree branch, wood, spray paint, permalac,
37 x 10 x 8 inches

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David Kennedy Cutler
Sustenance (Inside), 2014
Inkjet, spray paint, and permalac on aluminum, printed cotton, plexiglas
17 x 20 x 41 inches

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David Kennedy Cutler
Commodity (4), 2014
Inkjet on cotton sateen and aluminum,  tree branch, wood, spray paint, permalac
38.5 x 8.5 x 7.75 inches

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Glen Baldridge
The Collection, 2013
Edition of 15
23 block, 10 color woodcut with laser engraving on Thai Mulberry
28 1/2 x 39 inches

Glen Baldridge is someone whose work readers of this blog will be familiar with, with that in mind I will keep this brief.  Baldrige continues to find new and hilarious ways to secure his position as the clown prince of the New York print world. Often collaborating with master printers and experts in adjacent fields, Baldrige makes work that defies easy comprehension as a print, often instead looking like an object plucked out of a miasma of the low-end of pop culture. His exuberant observation of the sad-sack everyday brings to mind the artist Alex De Corta with a few important distinctions, Baldridge gives us the rectangle frame, his craftsmanship is flawless, and he is very much, unapologetically an artist working in print. And it’s precisely these conventional caveats that make the humor in his work so devastating; he leaves the front door open, inviting us into the work.

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Glen Baldridge
I cannot lie, 2012
Pigmented cast cotton on pigmented
abaca handmade paper
20 x 20 x 1 inches

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Glen Baldridge
Harbinger, 2013
Edition of 45
24 block, 8 color woodcut with laser engraving on Thai Mulberry 45 gsm
23 1/2 x 22 inches

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Glen Baldridge
Poem, 2013
Watercolor monotype
18 x 12.25 inches

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Glen Baldridge
Give Me Strength (Neopolitan), 2013
Watercolor monotype
14.5 x 17.75 inches

The gallery also produced a print portfolio to commemorate the exhibition.

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And created a Risograph Poster!

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Categories: Artists, Exhibitions


One Response to “Thousand Year Old Child at Planthouse Gallery”

  1. Julia says:

    Siiiiiicccckkk