Undone Yin Yang, an exhibition of new works by Jerry Blackman opened at the Cuchifritos Gallery. The five diptychs of meticulously drawn yin yangs sharply contrast the installation of coarse plaster sculptures that spatially dominate the gallery space. More deconstructed versions of the plaster sculptures are on two opposite walls. The exhibition successfully showcases Blackman’s versatile craftsmanship, both as a draftsman and as a sculptor.
The installation’s charm lies in its industrial appearance—the brown, gray, and yellow resembling factory residue. The loose arrangement of the sculptures on the platform suggests that these are parts of a machine that have been set aside temporarily.
The installation in the middle alone fills up the small gallery space and inevitably functions as the central work drawing in the audience into the gallery from inside Essex Street Market. The diptychs and the wall sculptures, hence, are secondary to the floor sculptures. The circular shape of the platform does encourage the viewer to walk all the way around to see all sides of the floor sculptures as well as the works on the walls.
The plaster sculptures are an iteration of Blackman’s Disk series from 2014. The texture of the plaster reflects Blackman’s labor intensive and physically involved process for making each circular sculpture. He reuses the mold for casting, thus creating a bodily connection between the sculptures. Also visible are fragments of texts and markings that are unexplained. They serve as evidence of the unique origins and inevitably distinct materiality of objects even if they are produced through a repeated process.
The black and white graphite drawings, while stylistically disparate, reference the process of combining a 1-to-1 ratio of water and plaster to make the sculptures. The gray paint, which embodies both white and black, is a unifying element of the exhibition and alludes, again, to the process of combining. The gray paint is on the frames of the diptychs, the gallery walls, the floors, the installation platform, and the sculptures themselves.
The idea of yin yang has a nuanced presence in the exhibition. Blackman offers, not a cultural recontextualization of the Chinese yin yang, but his own interpretation of yin yang produced as a precarious balance of the opposites in his work. To interpret is also to deconstruct, and in his process of deconstruction, Blackman has undone yin yang.
Jerry Blackman: Undone Yin Yang
On View: April 19-May 21, 2017
Curated by Brigitte Mulholland at Cuchifritos Gallery + Project Space
120 Essex Street
New York, NY 10002
Writing by Seung Hee Kim
Photographs provided by the artist