Cheim & Read’s installation of Jack Pierson’s “onthisisland,” a collection of 150 small watercolor and graphite works on paper, was curated excellently.
I stepped into the gallery and wanted to stay there longer just because of how well the presentation and the work amplified each other in such a satisfying way. In the front room of the exhibition, the paintings and drawings were so clean, simple, elegant and fresh, that they required a display that echoed those elements throughout the room.
Mounted on “boxes” stretched tightly with natural-tone linen, the paintings and sketches were given the opportunity to invite viewers to contemplate their simplicity, and possibly even turn it on its head.
This sensation continued into the back room of the installation, where Pierson’s larger graphite drawings were on display.
These dark, striking, doodle-like drawings with seemingly surrealist and op-art influences commanded me to recognize their complexity. The below piece is one I’d like to spotlight in this post:
I’m a fan of this piece in particular because it brought a flood of questions to my head that I am grateful to have circulating in there, including:
- Why do I look at something like this and think that there is more depth to it than a child’s doodle? Or is there not?
- Or, does a child’s doodle have the potential to be deep, so there isn’t even a conflict with that comparison?
- Also, am I thinking there’s something to this only because it’s galleried artwork? How much is the gallery’s affirmation of the art affecting my overall perception of it?
- Was the placement, shape and size of the forms in the piece spontaneous or premeditated?
- Does each have a meaning, meant to be decoded? Or do they each mean nothing?
- It looks like the artist has disregarded many conventional rules of composition and drawing technique. To what extent is that true, and what does that mean?
- Is this piece irreverent, or is it genius? Or both? Or neither?
I think that in conversations about art, works like this are generally controversial, because people really do wonder, why is this in a gallery or museum? Why or how does this piece display talent or have value? So, since I am fascinated and looking for more understanding, I’m looking forward to hopefully receiving some comments about this piece and this concept as a whole.