The Armory Show 4 - 7 March 2010 John Reynolds: 1001 Nights (detail)
Starkwhite will present 1001 Nights an installation by John
Reynolds at The Armory Show, NY from 4 - 7 March 2010
Reynolds' new work embraces 1001 Nights as a point of departure.
Folding stories within stories, Arabian Nights tracks, among other
things, the somnolence of daily life toward a contemplation of fate
and destiny. These life-preserving stories offer a rich poignancy
in today's context.
Reynolds charts a pungent bricolage of contemporary and
historical material from literary, political, philosophical, and
art sources to create a text-driven yet visual 'Harem of the Mind'.
Like a 'dance craze or a charismatic cult', the sprawling tale of
1001 Nights has mesmerized readers with its melding of tragedies,
love stories, comedies, burlesques, erotica, and geographies.
He sees the appeal of stories emerging from Baghdad over ten
centuries ago as a timely framework on which to explore a shifting
and perilous present. He goes about his work plundering fragments
from such diverse contemporary commentary as Tariq Ali on 'Saudi
Oil', David Simpson on 'America, Abu Ghraib and the War on Terror',
Stephen Holmes on 'Neo-Con Futurology', and J. Daniel Hays on
'Iraq: Babylon of the End-Times. He ranges across Richard Burton,
Marina Warner, Walt Disney, and Naomi Klein, to Calvino, Edgar
Allen Poe, Flaubert and Rushdie. Also Edward Said, Aristophanes,
and Sean Maguire with the US Marine Corps.
Reynolds says: "1001 Nights comes out of an unpicking of books,
articles and texts for terminologies, for acronyms, vocabularies
and lists, for songs, place-names, poems, indexes and glossaries
from pre-Islamic Persia to the Green Zone, Scheherezade to Stormin'
Norman, Babylon to Bushland, Sinbad the Sailor to Cyber-Jihad."
Visually this work unravels in the form of an installation of
1001 small canvases consisting of hand drawn silver text on black
grounds punctuated with a series of flaring metallic nocturnal
paintings. Conversely this 'meaning made of fragments' may further
multiply, heap and pile, shaping a ruin of plundered language
stacked like a soft ziggurat. Obscuring, revealing, forlorn.
John Reynolds lives and works in Auckland, New Zealand. Over the
past three decades he has established a reputation as a painter who
employs aspects of drawing (sketches, plans, charts, doodles) and
different types of representation (expressive marks, symbols,
patterns, writing) for poetic effect. Not content to be pigeonholed
as a painter, he also incorporates sculpture, installation and
site-specific outdoor works into his practice. These include
Cordyline commissioned by Alan Gibbs for The Farm, Kaipara and Snow
Tussock and Golden Spaniard commissioned by Oceana Gold for a
heritage and art park in East Otago.
He is also recognised for the diversity of his practice and
ability to work in a variety of scenes such as - architecture (with
Nicolas Stevens), fashion (with Workshop, World and Karen Walker),
music and publishing (record, book and magazine covers) and
television (Questions for Mr Reynolds documentary with Shirley
Horrocks and Works End with Chris Knox for Art Land). Reynolds is
also the recipient of a Laureate Award from the Arts Foundation of
Recently Reynolds and collaborator Arch MacDonnell produced
CERTAIN WORDS DRAWN, a book that celebrates the range of his work
with writing by 12 contributors. The book is a finalist in this
year's Montana New Zealand Book Awards.
Solo shows and representation in recent events and group
exhibitions include: One Hand Read, Art Los Angeles Contemporary,
the international art fair of Los Angeles (2010); Table of
Dynasties, ART HK, the international art fair of Hong Kong (2009);
Dorothy Napangardi / John Reynolds, curated by Robert Leonard,
Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane (2009); Walters Prize Exhibition,
Auckland Art Gallery (2008); John Reynolds: Under Milk Wood by
Dylan Thomas, a collaboration between the artist and actor/director
Geraldine Brophy, Christchurch Art Gallery (2008); Speaking Truth
to Power, Gus Fisher Gallery, Auckland University (2007); Zones of
Conflict, 15th Biennale of Sydney (his work Cloud was commissioned
for the entrance hall of the Art Gallery of New South Wales),
curated by Charles Merewether (2006); 54321: Auckland Artists
Projects, curated by Ngahiraka Mason, Auckland Art Gallery (2006);
Nine Lives: The Chartwell Collection, curated by Robert Leonard,
Auckland Art Gallery (2003); HEVN: NOT TO SCALE, curated by Sophie
McIntyre, Adam Gallery Victoria University, Wellington (2002): and
From K Road to Kingdom Come, curated by Gregory Burke and Robert
Leonard, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth (2001).
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