A Miami based contemporary art newsletter / blog

New Work at Twenty Twenty Projects

Installation view at Twenty Twenty Projects, Miami.

By David Rohn

The new show at Scott Murray’s Twenty Twenty Projects is a compendium of some of the more informal and personal tendencies cropping up here and there, lately; it’s called “New Work”.

Artists Jay Hines, John Bucklin, Justin Worsdale, Mark Gibson, and Jillian Mayer all seem to share a kind of immediate (sometimes urgent) concern for self expression that, instead of exploiting some sort of new visual approach, relies more on various materials and methods that seem to call for a more individual response to objects and series that spring from introspective, fetishist or animist sources. In some cases diminutive materials suggest that meaning, not object is the first concern. If Picasso and Braque wanted to borrow Form from African Animist artists, maybe these artists are more taken by the emotional power (ie: Content)that sort of art often possesses.

Jay Hines’ installation. Image courtesy of Twenty Twenty Projects, Miami.

Jay Hines, a Twenty Twenty Projects regular is an obvious starting point. His messy, thrown together-looking installation includes sticks, pants, shoes, (his own it turns out) a plastic mask, nasty words angrily scrawled on the wall, and references to big jewels and advertising images of status wrist watches torn from ‘lifestyle’ magazines as a focal point, on the floor. The Piece is an enlarged version of a drawing the artist created with his then-girlfriend and best friend late one night; “it’s about relationships and the compromises they engender”, says Hines.

The way the sticks pierce the mask’s eye-holes is by far the most obvious aspect of the piece. But its clutter literally hangs together about as precariously (and perfectly) as say, Miami’s Transportation System, or the US Economy.

Hine’s pieces have often been saturated with playful child like sexual references, but in this case they appear a bit more impatient and aggressive – the fixation of the mask on the ‘status’ wristwatches seems to implicate this and what it symbolizes within Hine’s diatribe. It’s hard to conceive of this fragile assemblage as an object; it really exists more as a kind of residue of a tantrum or seizure.

Jillian Meyer. Image courtesy of Twenty Twenty Projects, Miami.

Jillian Meyer.

Jillian Mayer’s pieces include some exquisitely fragile Papier Mache masks and clocks that  depict animals (in the case of the bear and deer heads) as powerful and soulful fellow creatures that mock the degrading sentimental images of animals that so often appear in mainstream culture. She mentions accessibility and humble materials as aesthetic goals and considers animals real – in other words ‘they don’t bullshit’.

Jillian Meyer.

Jillian Meyer, Feel Better, 2008. (clock). Image courtesy of Twenty Twenty Projects, Miami.

The fragility and anti-archival materials similarly defy the idea that the object has intrinsic value except as a humble vehicle to an aesthetic experience that may have a greater value. Actually these objects are kind of ratty, but their aesthetic power, (especially the Papier Mache heads) suggest this artist has retained a certain creative power that most lose by age 9. They generate a sense of empathy and understanding, arguably art’s primary purpose, and remind us that putting the price tag first really is like putting the cart before the horse.

Mark Gibson. Image courtesy of Twenty Twenty Projects, Miami.

Mark Gibson. Image courtesy of Twenty Twenty Projects, Miami.

Mark Gibson’s paintings of caves represent skull-like orifices and are reflections of personal ruminations on mortality and introspection. They’re more traditional pieces. Painted on canvas they represent images that, as the artist confirms, spring from a kind of personal and earnest search for a primordial, emotional source that, as he states, “leaves behind the formal way of thinking” that his “artistic training” had given him, “for something more earnest”.

John Bucklin. Image courtesy of Twenty Twenty Projects, Miami.

John Bucklin, a West Coast artist who last showed at Twenty Twenty during the ChaCha exhibition, presents a series of small works that represent his ongoing fascination with and attachment to gold prospecting. A drawing; a photograph; a small handmade shovel; gold dust and nuggets hammered into flat coin-like shapes represent his personal gold prospecting endeavors and their rare fruits.

John Bucklin. Image courtesy of Twenty Twenty Projects, Miami.

The artist describes his earlier work, particularly in terms of the process, as being comparable to ‘gambling.’ Techniques relating to this work, the process, the tools and the defined goal of prospecting seem to have become, for Bucklin, a practice that is parallel to the artistic one – before beginning to work literally and figuratively the metaphorical ‘search for gold’ translates as a search for himself as an artist.

Bucklin says that the prospecting process itself is its own reward. He likes working in nature, digging in the earth, and says the gold is usually found ‘in the lowest places’ – just as in artistic practice the most powerful art is generally from the deepest plumbs of consciousness. Much of the work, like the nuggets and gold dust, are framed like archeological specimens; more testaments to a process than objects of value in their own right. He also mentioned that most prospectors that he has met aren’t interested in ‘Modern Art’, and can’t understand why it’s so expensive.

Justin Worsdale.

Adjacent to Bucklin is a large (3’ x 3’) painting by Justin Worsdale of two girls dancing crazily around a swimming pool and some ‘so-what’ architecture while a kitten sniffs or drinks the water. It’s painted in a dashed expressionistic style except without the saturated colors and black lines associated with that movement; the result is that it reads in a careful but slightly frenetic way. It’s impossible to tell what’s gotten into these gals; they might be ecstatic, or maybe overcome with anguish. The upshot is this sense that it’s just feelings taking over and it’s sort of delirious and hilarious to remember how we’re continuously managing all these endless mixes of feelings all the time in order to ‘act’ grown up and adult.

This apparently consistent concern for introspective and emotional content wound up coming together in an interestingly parallel curatorial process: Scott Murray wanted to pull together a show defining some of the new work that he’d been seeing, but wasn’t getting a kind of defining idea articulated. Scott said that as the date of the exhibition approached, the show came together more as an emotional idea than an intellectual one. The show went up on an immediate sense of felt logic, at the last minute without a press release, statement or much other info in place. The result is a show that reflects the personal, seemingly unstructured, nature of the work involved.

What all this work has in common may be its non-formal process, its concern for personal emotion-based content, and its general effort to create aesthetic power with inconsequential materials. Is this a response to the glossy and carefully crafted collector-oriented work that has dominated Miami exhibitions for the past ‘boom years’?

If change is coming, as so many people seem to be saying, then maybe this is part of it. If all the money dries up then its influence on art production would logically dry up too. What is encouraging (and re affirming) about Miami is the specific way in which artists acclimatize; that even if making work to sell seems over for now, art itself certainly shows no sign of drying up [.]


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1 Comment

  • Richard Haden

    I prefer the source of Bucklin’s Gold to the globally extracting source techniques that are practiced by multi-national corporations–those who resort to strip mining to locate the amount required to produce the likes of a 110 pound sculpture ordered up by by Mark Quinn–his iconic tribute to global extraction, environmental destruction and Kate Moss–by obviously supporting the practice. Perhaps if Quinn were forced into a modern version of the Gulag he might think of working in less destructive materials–especially if he had to dig his own gold like Bucklin does. I’d respect Quinn then.

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New Work at Twenty Twenty Projects