BROOKLYN, NY.- The Chimney
is presenting Not for the peak, but for the mountain by American artist Andrew Erdos, his second solo exhibition at the gallery.
In Erdos work, landscape is a literal and metaphorical measurement of time. Inside The Chimney, a commissioned glass sculpture of 12ft high by 12ft wide stands as a monument to earths geological history and to humanity's ability to transform natural resources into new states. As it glows in the dark, the translucent mountain reveals its layered texture of interlaced stalagmites and stalactites. Crevasses and craters contrast with sharp crests and needles. As if caught in stillness after an earthquake or volcanic eruption, a geothermal energy permeates the work, seemingly waiting for release.
Built on a reclaimed industrial wood palette, the sculpture is made of five separate sections that each consists of a steel armature wrapped in galvanized steel mesh. Two metal tanks, concealed within the piece, are filled with water. The exterior is covered with hundreds of layers of molten glass, scooped out of a furnace heated to over 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. During the sculptures making, as Erdos pours the glass, incandescent filaments drip into the basins, causing the water to momentarily boil and steam, before regaining stillness. For Erdos, the most relevant physical and optical qualities of glass lie in their ability to capture and display time. In the glass-making process, the difference between a piece cracking or melting can be a few seconds, the artist explains. When glass is in its molten state, it acts similarly to a living organism. It produces heat, moves and radiates light. As it cools down, it cracks and dies. The glass can then melt again and re-incarnate into its next form.
Erdos granular spires stand in between two extremes, at the collision of two worlds: the slow geological violence embedded in endless millennial mountainous horizon, and the toxic sublime of industrial and ultramodern metropolis. Erosion or extraction of matter in each configuration is a brutal process from which humankind is growing more remote. In Undermining, artist and activist Lucy Lippard describes the disconnect between cityscapes and the materials used to build them: gravel mines are metaphorically cities turned upside down, though urban culture is unaware of its origins and rural birthplaces (1). A composite of glass and steel, Erdos monolithic sculpture was made through the combined action of heat, the artist's hand and the ancient technique of glass casting. Standing within New York Citys skyscrapers and Brooklyns industrial neighborhood, the fragility of this majestic landform is heightened. As crystallized energy, the sculpture challenges the human construct of time and invites one to enter in materialitys own life cycles.
The water-filled cauldrons bring a sense of balance and resilience to the piece as it establishes a perceptible tension with an invisible component: fire. The domestication of these elements, both at the roots of human evolution, grants the sculpture the irremediable aura of a sacred object. The choreography inherent to glass blowing also echoes the idea of art-making as a ritual, a symbolic gesture. Made ceremoniously with the support of assistants through spontaneous and organized encounters, series of movements unfolded at the rhythm of the artists incantations to bring the mountain to life.
In Not for the peak, but for the mountain, the process and the journey are equally important to the finished piece. With the humility, care and respect towards matters agency, the artist knows that one never walks on solid ground. The lava domes in his sculpture can die down, go dormant, extinct, or go back to life. In the words of Gutais manifesto writer Jiro Yoshihara, the human spirit and the material reach out their hands to each other, even though they are otherwise opposed to each other(2). Carving a place for their mutual understanding, Erdos builds timeless cathedrals to nature as an ode to the guaranteed impermanence of life.
Andrew Erdos (b. 1985) is an artist based in Brooklyn NY. His practice often combines traditional glass blowing and sculpting techniques with new media art installations.
Sculptures, videos, and performances of Andrew Erdos have been shown internationally at venues including The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg Russia, Deitch Projects (Art Parade) New York, NY, Jilin University Changchun China, The National Center for Contemporary Art Moscow, The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art Kansas City, MO, The Orlando Art Museum and the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.
Erdos work can be found in the permanent collections of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art (Kansas City, MO), the New Britain Museum of American Art, the Toledo Museum of Art, the Knoxville Museum of Art; the Corning Museum of Glass; the 21c Museum in Durham N.C. the Chazen Museum of Art at the University of Wisconsin Madison, and permanently installed in the city of Sharm El-Sheikh Egypt as part of the Reviving Humanity Memorial.
(1) Lucy Lippard, Undermining, 2014
(2) Jiro Yoshihara, Gutai Manifesto. 1956.