Fertile Art

10am-5pm Tue-Sat
Through Jan 19
Gallery Nord
2009 NW Military
Step into a tribal time warp at Gallery Nord for a sensual experience of undulating forms and vibrating patterns. Daniel Chadbourne’s solo exhibition, complete with outdoor installations, features a variety of figures that emerge in spiraling equilibrium. These sculptures and paintings, rendered in organic fibers, stoneware, wood, beads, horn, and the occasional eggshell, beget an experience steeped in unconscious desire and paradox.

The suggestive female forms of Chadbourne’s earthenware statues combine with highly phallic renderings of wood and beads to transform the gallery floor into an anthropomorphic statuary. Curvaceous structures such as “The Surrogate Guardian of Lost Beliefs” stand in bulbous opposition to their twiggy counterparts. These womanly figures seemingly swallow negative space and sturdily define Chadbourne’s cryptic presentation of modernity’s pre-historic origins. The artist seeks to translate age-old questions of mortality, religion, and sexual desire to a visual vocabulary of contemporary proportions. Chadbourne’s matronly figures tower at an impressive height, evoking a religious experience in which a sexually and psychologically frustrated following seek answers from stone. The bright turquoise, cobalt, and canary yellows of these figures suggest a tribal pattern as each stone is portrayed in perfect, geometric harmony. These sculptural elements present the dominance of that which we cannot control, transforming the role of the artist to contemplative instigator.  

The highly phallic, spiky wooden forms hanging from the ceiling and rising defiantly from exquisitely crafted bases are a careful study of impulsive movement. The natural shape and texture of several types of wood is accentuated by the use of a high-gloss finish, and successfully complements beads, fiber ropes, and seeds. “Tangential Preoccupation” explores the abstruse concepts of the human condition. This writhing series of branches hangs erectly from the ceiling and combines the stability of wooden form with a sagging chain of seeds. Obvious references to fertility abound in each work, the use of seeds and eggs in combination with phallic forms suggest the continuance of humanity, and therefore the concurrent existence of love and pain. Chadbourne’s work questions the conditions of reality and explores levels of human emotion beyond a conventional set of rules.

A collection of modest acrylic paintings accent Chadbourne’s iconic sculptures; these compositions are highly patterned studies of color, shape, and design. “The Disparity of Logic” depicts an ovular shape halved by a grid of color. Below this divided oval, a checkerboard of shapes, in a myriad of hues, lunges and retreats in perspectival motion. Here, the artist defines the role of the viewer in an environment of circumstance and chance. Chadbourne encourages surrender to the world as he defines it: dominated by displacement and ambiguity.

Ultimately, the exhibit is a study of human emotion; Chadbourne empowers natural materials to create an environment in which sexuality is reduced to its primal form.  This raw presentation reminds us of our ultimate connection to paleo-history and presents our animalistic desires in conjunction with morality.


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