Mildly and Gingerly

Currently on view at 303 Gallery is Valentin Carron's second solo exhibition. Upon walking into the gallery, one can't help but notice the rod iron snakes as they lead the way into the exhibition space. My first impression of the show was something only very mildly impulsing and the feeling of foreboding danger suggested with the "approaching" snakes only tapped my consciousness mildly. However, after spending some time with the pieces I began to see the humor that I had missed on my initially arrival.

Image courtesy 303 Gallery
Image courtesy 303 Gallery

This cubic piece was inspired by a sculpture of German artist Ewerdt Hilgemann. Hilgemann is Perhaps most known for his public sculptures, through this piece Carron inevitably established a parody between his own sculpture and Hilgemann's sculpture. While in both Hilgemann and Carron's works the physical materiality played out the main emphasis, however the intentions set the two apart thus the humor was slightly revealed here. Being a conceptual sculptor, Hilgemann experiments with manipulated and irregular-shaped cubes and vicariously interprets the visual and physical correlations between light and object to the spectators. Taking cues from this, Carron's process seemed more contrived in a sense that he perhaps already knew the result before the experiment. In other words, when he rolled this polystyrene cube down a debris-strewn hill (as noted in the gallery press release) in order to "round-off" the corners, his gesture was already an afterthought contrary to chance per se. What I find intriguing was the material of the cube that it had such startling similarity to a marble surface, the material of which Hilgemann's piece was built.

Image courtesy 303 Gallery

To call this post mild and ginger was much derived from the initial looks of the visual presentation in the gallery. Contrary to the adjectives I used, the iron serpents certainly did not present themselves in anyway mild as they were quite large in scale. As for gingerly, well, we can't exactly call rolling a giant cube down a hill an act done in a cautious manner, or can we? But, contrived for comic relief or serious critique? This exhibition is on view until May 12.


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