Aaron Spangler – Paranoid Defenders
1 May—20 June 2009
Galerie Michael Janssen Berlin
Galerie Michael Janssen is pleased to announce its first solo showing of works by sculptor Aaron Spangler.
Spangler brings his uniquely American vision to three monumental new pieces, executed in the superbly detailed bas relief technique that epitomizes his practice. His carvings are coated in black gesso and then graphite, lending them a slightly ghoulish appearance, suggestive of relics or talismans.
Spangler not only expresses a native Midwesterner’s sympathetic eye for what remains in the wake of the region’s industrial decline, but de es the conventions of wood carving by transforming a marginalized craft into a conduit for the mythology of the American Prairie, without diminishing the medium’s tactility or symbolic richness.
Less narratively driven than some of his earlier work, Spangler has been influenced here by the distinctive extravagance of the art deco era. The elaborate two-sided Songbird harkens back to a period when American populism spoke to the common man, while engaging in backdoor violence. Enigmatic masks, shotgun blasts and militant hippies occupy the same planes as a gloriously feathered creature, a lovingly rendered image of the artist’s own Minnesota home and fairy-tale-like beasts. The absurdity of portraying a violent warring “defender” in the guise of a songbird on one face and an intricate mechanical oral motif on the reverse exemplifies Spangler’s wedding of martial elements and rural spirit with an anarchist twinge.
His repertoire of Midwestern Gothic themes continues in the freestanding openwork piece Maple Man, in which a leafy supranatural creature creeps over symbols of a rural Armageddon. The abstract wall piece, Boreal Sky, is a rich fiourish composed of the detritus of the other carvings, but speaks no less to the striking makeup of the current American spirit.
Aaron Spangler, Paranoid Defenders , Installation view, 2009, Galerie Michael Janssen, Berlin