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Oceans Between Us
Josee Bienvenu Gallery
20 September - 27 October 2007
The geology of Adam Ogilvie's candy-pop colored landscapes is all marshmallow and lollipop, but a palpable unease pervades his work. In "Wishes for a Wiser time," grey smoke puffs from a volcanic mountain into the pink sky; are these signs of impending eruption? A parachute drops behind a broad hill in "Homes become Hollows, Hollows Become Home," the pilot unseen and unaccounted for; what has happened? In "Fjord," fighter planes sit unattended on quiet plateaus; will they be manned and, if so, to what end?
The inhabitants of this anxiety-ridden world are "MOLEBEARBIRD - burrower, fighter, flyer and hibernator" and a cast of related characters wearing capes, dragging great rocks, and generally going about the business of the absurd. Ogilvie also includes in the exhibit cardboard-and-screw sculptures of these anthropomorphic creatures. Removed from the context of the paintings, the blank-faced sculptures might read as ambivalent totems to our existential folly, but here these creatures appear hopeful, if pensive; they are determined to make the best of every rolling of the bones. Like Camus's Sisyphus, "the struggle itself is enough to fill" these creatures' hearts.
"Poisoned, Beautiful, Almost Gone," for example, depicts a squat, bear-like creature tugging at the cords of his parachute as it collapses on the gallery floor. Is this our missing pilot, the fellow who vanished behind the painted hill and landed on the MIA list? If so, he's likely in unfamiliar or "hostile" territory--yet the bear seems to realize that the surest way to survive is simply going on, whether dealing with an uncertain situation or the whole of life itself.
In a side gallery, Ogilvie includes a 2-minute video loop and one large-scale photograph. The press release suggests that these two works are intended as intermediaries, avenues to "facilitate" the viewer "[becoming] the bear" creature. The video is meditative and somber, and perfectly fine, but the photograph feels irrelevant. Despite my appreciation for experimentation, especially in our market-driven contemporary scene, I feel that the presentation of this work distracts from the goings on in the gallery's main space. The paintings and sculptures already succeed, on their own, in making the viewer empathize with MOLEBEARBIRD.