Taking over the expanses of Clearing Gallery’s Bushwick exhibition space, artist Jean-Marie Appriou presents a body of new work delving into Medieval aesthetics and the legends of the era, creating a range of works that mine the lore and mythologies that sprung from the era following the fall of Rome.
Appriou’s work draws its strength and potency from the mythology of the journey, the human interest in the unknown that underwrites both classical mythologies and more modern constructions of the worlds of fantasy and history. A recurring trope are the demons and heroes of the quests of Arthurian lore, the human fascination with the unknown that sits at the center of the quests for the Grail, as well as the deep inquiries of modern paleontological and astrological inquiries. The result of these shared spaces are a series of sculptures meditating on the construction and exploration of our world by Appriou, merging and twisting varied phenomenologies into a shared body.
In a series of intimately scaled bas-reliefs, for instance, Appriou’s painterly approach to sculpture is on full display, creating works that call together the varied elements of alchemical studies together and emphasize a range of both archaeological iconographies and mythological elements. In The Waterline (Dawn), a knightly hero floats serenely, eyes closed and arms outstretched, among the waterlilies beside a plesiosaur, one that seems to equally reference the modern myth of Loch Ness and the mysterious creature who supposedly calls it home. The ripples distort the edges of the knight’s body like expressionistic brushstrokes, blurring the boundaries between it and the primordial world, rendered in shimmering purple, delicate green, and gold. Appriou’s work operates along an extended scale of time, merging together a range of myths and bodies in a manner that creates new codes of shared space and awareness, investigating varied modes of understanding history simultaneously. The works are a site of travel and exchange, where these varied constructions and suppositions about the earth’s past are left to marinate and inform each other. With their swirling ripples and waves of bronze, Appriou opens a portal, inviting visitors to journey with him.
Also on view are a body of new sculptures The Blood Drop, The Water Drop, The Pearl Keeper, and The Berry Keeper—each depicting androgynous bronze astronauts (the knights of our modern world) crouching among the scaly coils of serpentine dinosaurs. They wear chainmail, sabatons, and delicate glass helmets (rosy pink, glacial blue, yellow, and violet, respectively), handblown by the artist. The reptiles and life-size human figures are physically conjoined, as though they are extensions of the same hybrid being. They are also travelers, moving between the worlds beyond our own, and into the imagery of our own past, otherworldly figures that mix sci-fi and fantasy in equal measure.
The show closes November 1st.
– A. Cook
Very Rich Hours [Exhibition Site]