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April 27 2009 2 27 /04 /April /2009 11:19

It is hard to say where we are when we enter the space of the CRG Gallery, totally appropriated until May 2 by the young American artist Colby Bird. Developing the concept of art as an artifact, he takes elements from the common life and diverts them. The space is then organized as a combination of objects, sculptures and delicate photographs, into which we pervade an atmosphere mixing nostalgia, enigma and banality.

Indeed he likes contrasts, his works constantly confronts different periods, values, spaces or mode of living: and instead of opposing, they reflect on each other, increasing their own meaning. “Manifest”(2008), is a diptych that juxtaposes a photograph of a rubber Tupac Shakur mask with a printed reproduction of a romantic landscape painted by Albert Bierstadt entitled  “In the Mountains”. This icon of the underground culture embodies both political commitment through a form of art and a tragic destiny. Facing it, this so romantic and this smooth and so accessible work of art of the 19th century lives us first perplex.  But as a “Manifest”, this piece reflects the desire of the artist to changes this idea of contemporary art as an hermetic and high cultural level field: through his creations, he seeks for communication to the highest number.

The other sculptures and photographs show this same will of democratization of art. He uses accessible material, that recalls us to our everyday life, and by its diversion he engages us in a new relation with them. For instance, the large and imposing gloss black banner, with the word ‘SWAGGER” written in purple, reminds us the urban produced urban advertisements and the handmade paper banners of sporting events. The use of a vinyl material that makes it glossy and vivid, increase this sensation of arrogance, the way that publicity invade our individuality as this banners invades the space of the gallery.

In his sculptures and photos, light has a fundamental paper; interviewed for the Time Out New York, Bird said : “Artificial light and the tension between indoor and outdoor always factor heavily. A lot of color that I use in my sculptures is either clinical bright white or some sort of rotten, aged yellow, and I try to let that be in contrast to some of my photos which present a more comfortable, neutral—not always natural—light. I like the shame and decadence associated with extended periods spent indoors. I saw a movie one time about a community of people in Minneapolis who made it a point to stay indoors for months and months on end. Sickening, but attractive on a very base level.”

To combine and juggle between different medias, times and cultures is not an easy task, and we can only recognise more the genuine talent of Colby Bird, as a search for a democratization of art. After the amazing and engaged exhibition of Brian Tolle, the CRG Gallery really succeed to find young promising artists whose novating works are an accurate reflection of the problematics of our time. A place to follow for contemporary art...

Colby Bird is included in numerous private collections as well as a number of public collections including The Whitney Museum of American Art. Upcoming museum shows include the PatinoMuseum, Santa Cruz, Bolivia.  He received his MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2004.

Visuals : Above : Brian Tolle, view of the exhibition at the CRG Gallery, May 2009. Below : Bran Tolle, Manifest, 2009, courtesy CRG Gallery]

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Published by Art and You - in Exhibitions and Fairs
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