Traces Of Things That are Alive and Dead
Curator: Phil Lique
January 14—March 20, 2010
Known for his fantastical, hybrid-style animals and other wildly imaginative figural sculptures, New Haven-based artist Phil Lique continues to subvert the functionality of ordinary materials while pushing the conceptual boundaries between renewal and decay, nature and artifice, and stability and chaos. In this exhibition, Lique presents a new series of visceral paintings that describe the interminable violence–and the continual spectacularization of it–that besets contemporary American life. Recognizable and decidedly uncomfortable, Lique’s coded imagery of growling grizzly bears, snarling dogs, and roaming wolves speaks metaphorically to the trauma of our current economic climate and the continual degradation of our natural environment. Using the technical elements of collage, graphic design, illustration, and traditional landscape painting, Lique’s pictorial mash-ups hold viewers at arm’s length yet call their attention to misplaced values, moral ambivalence, and the nature of complicity.
Lique’s commissioned installation, Evidence of Competitve Natures (2010), speaks to his ongoing interest in the transformation of everyday objects into personified forms. The neon-orange installation bears the mark of a performance, which took place at Artspace prior to the public opening of this exhibition. Viewers witnessed the marred surface of a large-scale wooden platform filled with electrical cables, chains, and three circular saws that were subsequently powered on and let loose in the platform. The mangled tools assumed roles of combating forces, leaving the battle scene fresh. Sawdust, severed cords, and other charred materials remain. The physical detritus, or the fallout from combat, is similarly reflected in the surrounding paintings, each commenting on how brutally violent events become “flattened” through the role of human intervention and the structure of public media.