David Kordansky Gallery presents an online solo exhibition of new sculptures and works on paper by Aaron Curry. Featuring both floor- and wall-based compositions, the show highlights the importance of collage throughout Curry’s project, as well as the complex and playful spatial effects he generates through the combination of flat forms. Juxtaposing appropriated imagery from sources like cereal boxes, comics, and sci-fi book covers, and constructing objects from materials that include printed and cut vinyl, Plexiglas, and LED lights, Curry has produced works that synthesize a career’s worth of exploration while breaking new compositional ground.
If you are interested in purchasing works, please click "INQUIRE" below to email our team. Aaron Curry will be on view here through August 12, 2020, 8:00 am Pacific Time.
Aaron Curry is one of contemporary art’s most astute observers of the ever-changing intersections between digital and physical spaces. Though his finished work is resolutely analogue and handmade, his point of view seems to hover in an unlikely zone between the computer and the woodshop, and between the shifting visual masses of latter-day popular culture and the experimental, abstract ethos of modernist art. Upon first glance, Curry’s newest sculptures are perhaps most notable for the image-dense compositions that cover their components. The result of paper and cardboard collages that have been scanned into the computer and printed onto vinyl, the “skins” are then subject to various kinds of manipulation. When Curry wraps them around wood forms, new image and textural combinations arise organically. But he also intervenes in more mediated ways, using a digital plotter to remove lines and shapes based on his own drawn marks.
Throughout these works, the presence of the body and the impact of physical things are weighed against the virtual, hyperreal spaces that continue to proliferate at an astounding pace. Curry manages this feat with humor, precision, and curiosity, revealing surprisingly seamless connections in otherwise disjunctive worlds. This ethos appears at every level, starting with the ways in which he brings images appropriated from different sources into new relation. The cartoon-based artwork that appears on cereal boxes has a ham-fisted innocence that is put into question when spliced with illustrations of monsters from more adult-oriented science fiction, for instance. A spoon from a Fruity Pebbles box is enlisted to do double duty as a witch’s cauldron; Cap’n Crunch’s hand is intentionally mistaken for the rippling muscles of some ferocious creature; and the eyes of one of the eponymous friendly monsters from the Trolls film franchise are mashed-up with a pair lifted from a Weeping Woman painting by Picasso.
Much as he balances the intersecting planes of wood from which the sculptures are made, eliciting shifting experiences of positive and negative space, Curry choreographs the affective extremes of divergent popular genres so that they never teeter completely into humor or horror. Just when the primal appetites of the Flintstones or the off-kilter creepiness of a beast that would grace the cover of Heavy Metal magazine threaten to dominate a given passage, he introduces moments of pure abstraction and pulsating beauty. In this respect, he operates like an abstract expressionist, striving to achieve an all-over composition—in both two and three dimensions—that can’t be reduced to any one color, shape, or mood. His standalone collages bring this quality of his work to the forefront, where it can be seen in intimate, tactile detail.
While Curry’s sensitivity to the valences of pop-cultural images—not to mention his free-wheeling approach to transforming them—clearly places his project in dialogue with the work of artists like Peter Saul, Ray Yoshida, and others associated with the Chicago Imagists, his formal concerns expand the conversation in unexpected ways. Two of the wall-based sculptures on view include two-way mirrors and LED lights that create illusions of limitless voids. These spaces optically puncture not only the surfaces of the sculptures themselves, but the walls on which they hang, and even, one could argue, the viewer’s pre-existing sense of what is real and what is not.
The mirrored base that supports the floor-based work Body Positive Crackle-Cut Figure (2020), meanwhile, posits a kind of optical paradox in which an object is supported not only by its own reflection, but by an image of the environment that surrounds it from above. Moves like these can be read in conjunction with the dark, perception-defying voids at the center some of Lee Bontecou’s wall sculptures from the 1960s, which harness the eye’s propensity to invent information where its ability to see is curtailed. The result of relatively simple—if ingenious—material sleight of hand, effects like these also pose questions about how now-common technologies like CGI are changing the ways that imagination and observation function, both on their own and in relation to each other.
Curry has parlayed such investigations into encompassing room- and museum-sized installations that incorporate sculpture, painting, and hand-screened cardboard wallpaper. As the viewer navigates these spaces, dimensional objects flatten out and flat forms spring forward, establishing a morphing continuum that fuses the physical and the visual in a single immersive experience. In Tune Yer Head (2018-19), a recent solo exhibition at The Bass, Miami, he even turned his attention to the floor, producing a custom carpet that transforms an otherwise standard gallery of framed collages into a dizzying architecture of line, negative space, and acid color.
For all its sly conceptualism and frenetic, media-savvy self-awareness, Curry’s universe teems with the kind of living energy that is only possible when an artist steps boldly and physically into the fray. Whether incised from vinyl; rendered using prismatic, reflective stickers; or painted onto appendage-shaped pieces of Plexiglas, his own marks—including his stylized signature—weave in and out of the visual matrix. Traditional pleasures of painting and sculpture are on full view, reminders that the human hand is an indispensable part of why we return to strange, stimulating objects like these, time and again.
Aaron Curry (b. 1972, San Antonio, Texas; lives and works in Los Angeles) was recently the subject of solo exhibitions at the McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, Texas (2019); The Bass, Miami (2018); and STPI – Creative Workshop and Gallery, Singapore (2018). A multi-year solo outdoor installation at deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, Massachusetts is currently on view. Other recent solo exhibitions have been held at the Rubell Family Collection, Miami (2014); CAPC Musée d’Art Contemporain de Bordeaux, France (2014); Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, New York (2013); and the High Museum of Art, Atlanta (2012). Group exhibitions include Jing'an International Sculpture Project (JISP), Jing'an Sculpture Park, Shanghai (2018); West by Midwest, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (2018); On the Origin of Art, Museum of Old and New Art, Tasmania, Australia (2016); and After Picasso: 80 Contemporary Artists, Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio (2015). Curry’s work is in the permanent collections of the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Minneapolis Institute of Arts; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and Seattle Art Museum, among other institutions.
To learn more about Aaron Curry, please view these articles from L'Officiel USA, Artillery, W Magazine, Artforum.com, and the New York Times, as well as this conversation between Trinie Dalton and Curry in his Tune Yer Head monograph, available for purchase here.
Studio photography by Aaron Curry
Artwork photography and videography by Lee Thompson