Greg Kucera Gallery, 2011

The exhibition Kingdom, comprising recent oil paintings, sculptures, and a gouache-on-paper bestiary*, follows the form of the animal into states of being and becoming, metamorphosis, dematerialization, and decay. In oil-on-panel paintings, animals appear—either highly rendered or barely evoked—in landscapes that are in constant flux, the materiality of the animal’s body always marking the paradox of a being’s concrete existence in inherently unstable time and space. Freed from predictable cycles of birth, life, and death, the animals in the paintings may be victims of the atmospheric upheaval that surrounds them, or they may be products of it; but they are never ontologically apart. In the exhibition’s sculptures and in the twenty-three works on paper constituting the bestiary, the animal body itself is in a state of transition, in flux, and without boundaries. In three-dimensional space and on the page, animal forms assert their precisely described particularity, all the while surrendering the limits of their bodies. By turns monstrous, fanciful, or abstract, the animals merge into composite forms bringing forth strange fellowships between species normally separated by geography, time, or the line between fact and fiction.

*The animal species depicted in the gouache-on-paper bestiary are all derived from the medieval bestiary tradition, in which a finite number of known species—as well as mythological creatures—were catalogued encyclopedically. As a genre, the medieval bestiary not only constituted a natural history of creation, but also participated in a rich tradition of the moralizing allegory, the animal kingdom providing apt figures for human behavior, human folly, and the stark reality of the post-lapsarian human condition.

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