New Works by Ron Ulicny at Spoke Art

by Admin on 03/04/2012

At Spoke Art this month, Portland, Oregon-based artist Ron Ulicny facilitates his fascination of transforming familiar objects to create innovative sculpture, re-presenting them in a unique re-evaluation of materality, purpose and three-dimensional form. Foregoing the object’s usage in some works, Ulicny’s fine craftsmanship and particular attention to the object’s inherent elements of design, color, and style give dignity and exceptional worth to these commonplace objects. One particularly strong example is “Keepsake…” where the artist took apart a game-winning baseball from his youth, and archived each one of the different materials in separate jars, examining how the baseball’s elemental materials form the sports object. After deconstructing its personal nostalgic, sentimental value, Ulicny re-presents the object to the audience as a work of art that examines the baseball’s substance and properties.

The vigor in Ulicny’s artworks draw from the similar strength in Found Art, similar to those by Marcel Duchamp or the Surrealists, both by which Ulicny seems to be deeply inspired.  The artist’s interest in the visceral, as Ulicny says “the idea of juxtapositon, perception, [and] your conscious & unconscious mind” employs similar ideals. Surrealist literature and artistic intention frequently returns to the writings 19th century author Comte de Lautréamont, who drew attention to the artistically powerful possibilities of transforming otherwise mundane objects with paradoxical pairings that both exacerbate and question their existence. In “Painting #1 – Circles,” the placement of such disparate objects: records, smoke detectors, and lightbulbs still in their sockets question much of their a priori knowledge when combined based entirely on their design and pattern, creating a visual stimuli that is at once visually pleasing but contextually irrational.

Ulicny’s influence from the Surrealists is also cleverly played out in “This is a Pipe,” appropriated from Magritte’s famous painting “Ceci n’est pas une pipe.” Ulicny’s work takes it further and into his own realm, fashioning his sculptural work with parts from a smoking pipe and a valve, treating the smoking pipe as also a plumbing pipe. Whereas Magritte’s work was not a real pipe but a representation of one, Ulicny’s use of  such material argues successfully his work could be named a pipe, because they existed as such outside of Ulicny’s re-presentation, rationalizing a somewhat bizarre context. Whatever the outcome, these finely executed, seamless works display a deeply affective visual experience that demands engagement with the viewer.

Ron Ulicny’s New Works at Spoke Art until March 22, 2012