Per Barclay: House of Oil and Water
Norwegian artist Per Barclay presents three bodies of work at the Redwood this summer: a site-specific commission, Oil Room(Redwood) (2019) in Abraham Redwood’s eighteenth-century summer house; Untitled (2018), a 7-foot glass house where pumped water sloshes gently and rhythmically around the interior walls and ceilings in the Redwoods's Delivery Room; and monumental photographs that document his earlier site-specific installations in the Peirce Prince Gallery. These include a library reflected with stunning clarity in a mirror of oil Rue Visconti # 14 (2010, above), a Swiss bank vault seemingly floating atop it, La Banque, Geneve, 2005, and other oily interventions.
Oil Room(Redwood) will transform the original floor of the summerhouse into a dark mirror – a viscous pool of oil – that will reflect incoming light through the windows, even as it might prompt questions about our complicated dependency on this “black gold.” The transparency of glass house, Untitled, offers a visual counter to the opacity of oil, yet the core content of the work – the diminishing resource of water – probes similar questions of sustainability. Moreover, Barclay sees the glass structure as “an extension” of his oil rooms in that both deny the audience the possibility of entry, forcing them to inhabit the space outside, and attenuating a tactile, olfactory and sensory experience into a purely optical one. As he puts it: “to some extent, the greenhouse is a three-dimensional version of the oil room where the continuous relationship between the inside and outside, the active and the passive, always is present.”
Barclay’s work poses oil as mirror onto the underside of late modernity, pooling it into a literal and metaphoric ground that invites us to pause, and to behold this omnipresent, but largely invisible substance that powers our lives. The artist, by displacing a substance of the present into a structure from the past, calls attention to the shape and history of specific, culturally embedded architectural forms, such as a summer house, or a greenhouse. If the summer house is an emblem of Newport leisure, the Victorian greenhouse, stuffed with tropical specimens, embodies the extraction of resources driving today's consumer culture.
Curator: Leora Maltz-Leca
June 28 - September 28, 2019
Russell Lee: A Documentarian’s Personal Kodachromes
A stalwart of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Farm Security Administration (FSA) photographic documentation project of the 1930s, Russell Lee’s legacy has up to now rested largely on his iconic black & white photographs of rural America. Presenting material heretofore never exhibited publicly, the exhibition comprises a body of enlarged color kodachromes taken by Lee during trips to Mexico and Norway during the 1950s and 60s, offering up the late, personal visions in rich color of an artist known for his haunting documentary photographs.
Van Alen Gallery
Opening Autumn 2019