Mike Ballou; Douglas Kolk; Roger Newton and Jeffrey Wisniewski Press Release | David Zwirner

Mike Ballou has brought to the gallery two large-scale sculptures, with which he touches the themes of authorship, art perception, and the role of the artist as entertainer. In the first room, the artist confronts the viewer with a puppet stage, in which an audience made up of small marionette-like puppets, likened after his group of friends, is waiting in front of an ephemeral seascape for a show that is perpetually starting. In the second room, Ballou's masked, giant uncanny hand-puppet reminds us of our many dependencies, as well as of the artist's creative dilemma.

Jeffrey Wisniewski's drawings and videos are documents of several projects realized by the artist over the last few years. Often taking a specific urban or suburban building characteristic of its geographic environment, the artist will transfer the remains into a public installation that requires the viewer to interact with the mutability of building structures. In "Untitled/House Project" for example, Wisniewski fed a colonial wooden house, that was slated for demolition to make way for the construction of a highway, through a wood chipper and exhibited the debris in a gallery. In a recent installation, "Solar Implode Powerhouse," Wisniewski has created an outdoor sculpture in which an intricate solar powered motor slowly destructs a trailer home.

After having treated the three walls of this exhibition space with light hues of house paint, Douglas Kolk painted three separate images directly on the walls with thin, almost ethereal lines and colors, accentuated by fluorescent details applied with marker. Evoking a strong sense of absence and loss, the young, androgynous people portrayed in these images are defined by isolation, recalling universal childhood memories. They seem to float though space and give the walls a light and fleeting quality that is very unusual to the permanent effect of traditional muralmaking. Smaller drawings on paper relating to the murals, can also be viewed in the gallery upon request.

Although seemingly figurative, the photographs of Roger Newton are non-representational and ultimately suspend the distinction between abstraction and figuration. Newton takes a highly ideological and decidedly low-tech approach towards photography. Rather than relying on fancy equipment and expensive labs, Newton's photography is entirely self-made/home-made. For his peculiar vision of reality he makes his own cameras, his own lenses (lenses filled with liquids such as water, honey, and linseed oil to utilize the different refractive properties of each material) and sometimes even his own film. He subsequently develops his imagery directly onto the prepared wood omitting all paper. The application of rabbit skin glue, as well as of the photographic emulsions which Newton mixes himself from scratch, give the work a sensual and painterly surface, not found elsewhere in contemporary photography.

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