Sculpture Center LIC
Leopards In The Temple Exhibit / Photos
January 10, 2010 / Long Island City, LIC. Tonite the Sculpture Center in LIC opened Leopards In The Temple exhibit. The exhibit includes about a dozen or so artists, primarily from northern Europe, but also includes one Portuguese artist and two Americans.
Leopards In The Temple At The Sculpture Center LIC
The theme of the exhibit is based on a parable by Franz Kafka entitled ‘Leopards In The Temple’. The parable is as follows: “Leopards break into the temple and drink the sacrificial chalices dry; this occurs repeatedly again and again; finally it can be reckoned upon beforehand and becomes a part of the ceremony.”
I contemplated the meaning of the theme as I entered the gallery, which was bustling with artists, art lovers, art officiants and dilettantes. The leopards repeat the process until they become a part of it … hmmm. The leopards drink the dregs, the leftovers from the chalice … what does this mean and how does this relate to what I was about to see.
Sculpture Center In Long Island City Hosts Exhibit Opening
The first art work that grabbed my attention is this huge watercolor on aluminum. In it a man appears to be holding a fainting woman, while another man and woman look on. There’s a large triangle overlaid on the man holding the fainting woman, which is reflective of the triangles one finds on the floor in front of the piece. I ponder the meaning of the triangles before I move on into the gallery.
We see triangles again in an oil painting found hanging on a wall further back in the gallery. This time the triangles are overlaid on two faces. I’m told that triangles have a certain ritualistic, spiritualism in them. I think of the holy trinity in the Christian religion, as well as how I have heard throughout my life that “everything comes in threes”. I investigate to see if there’s a connection with the large watercolor on aluminum painting in front, but I’m informed that these were done by two different artists.
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Set back, deep in the gallery are three very large oil paintings. These oils were created from graphic images created by a graphic artist, which are being shown on slide projectors in the downstairs galleries along with many other images created by the same graphic artist. The idea of creating a painting from a graphic design is just the opposite of how things are usually done in the art world, as a painting is first created and then slides are made of it for distribution and conveyance via modern means. It seems that in this case the process has been turned completely reversed.
One of the recurring themes at the Sculpture Center is one of alchemy. Technically alchemy is about transforming base metals into gold. In the larger sense it’s about transforming ordinary materials into something magical. A year ago, while visiting the center during the ‘In Practice Project Series’ I encountered this theme as presented by one of the exhibiting artists at the time, and I contemplated its meaning. If I recall correctly he used the example of transforming paper and green ink into a $100 bill which is worth far more than the raw materials.
The value is all about what one believes. One can easily translate this concept into art, as the oil and canvas of a Van Gogh painting is worth far more than the raw materials he used to transform them into something of such precious value.
I stumble upon a steaming caldron standing next to some ten or twenty bags of cement mix piled knee-high. The continuous steam will be absorbed by the cement during the course of the two month exhibit, transforming the concrete from cement mix into cement bricks. I wonder ... does this change its value? Up near the front desk, I notice this beautiful mix of color put together by broken glass. By taking these beautiful bottles and glasses the artist transformed them into a glittering array along a wall upon the gallery floor.
Sculpture Center Art Gallery - Queens
In the galleries downstairs, there was a film projector running short films about such things as paramagnetism. In one clip we see a man searching for it and when he finds it, something happens. I inquired after seeing this, whether the effort had been staged and was informed that in fact it was. But the artist’s point was to show something quite magical in these short clips, of which there were several others.
Also in the lower galleries there were a couple of other moving image projects, one of which seemed to be about body parts, shot in black and white, and the photographs framed the body parts from all sorts of different angles.
The other moving image exhibit showed still life images in cinema. You kind of have to think about this one, although when I first encountered it, someone’s child was running up and down the tunnel bouncing against the wall upon which the art was being shown, happily enjoying all the attention he was being given, while his parents sunk into the background.
Like the leopards in the temple, he kept repeating this, and soon we were all mesmerized by his childlike antics, instead of the still life moving image.
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As I came up into the main floor and began looking around, I thought that perhaps we, the audience, are the leopards in the temple, feasting our eyes on the ‘leftovers’ – the final art works – following the great spiritual and divine ritual of creating the works. And that as we continually repeat this behavior, we too are a part of their process.
The show lasts until mid March. It’s probably worth more than one visit and the Sculpture Center is a great place to just hang out absorbing the art and atmosphere. Perhaps the alchemy will transform your year.
The artists included in the exhibit are: Luther Baumgarten, Nina Canell, Strauss Bourque-LaFrance, Kitty Kraus, Patrick Hill, Lucas Knipscher, Kerstin Bratsch, Adele Roder, Kathrin Sonntag, Nina Hoffman, Joao Maria Gusmao, Pedro Paiva, Latifa Echakhch, Aleanna Egan and Lucy Skaer. Special thanks to Nickolas Roudane, Alex Lane, Katie Bode and Allison for their contributions to this report.
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