Friday, August 31, 2012

Locked in the office supply closet with Jonathan Clark

Dean Liscum

I have a confession to make.

As a corporate cube dweller, I covet office supply. Actually, it's worse than that. I don't just covet the stuff. I fantasize that with the right color combination of post-it notes and pastel highlighters, I could--while on a multi-hour conference call--create a masterpiece.

To be honest, my masterpiece would be a conventional, representational artwork similar to Mark Khaisman's work as in his Irina, which he created using packaging tape on an acrylic panel and backlit with red light.

Or I'd do yet one more pointillist tribute to Seurat and create something like Eric Daigh's portraits made of push pins.

Eric Draigh, Meghan III, pushpins on board, 48" x 36"

But, I'd use those really large push pins because after about 30 minutes I would be bored with my own artistic genius and frustrated with my level of skill. Then, too, would send out Rachel Hooper to help inform me oh-what-a-piece it was and Laura Lark to advise me in...well, everything.

This sort of representational, found (in-the-office-supply-closet) art requires some skill. There's no shortage of artists that possess that skill and create art from office supplies. However, they all seem to do representative art

Houston's Jonathan Clark separates himself from the other cubical kleptomaniacs by creating abstract art as demonstrated in his show at Darke Gallery.

Jonathan Clark installation

The pieces are a dazzling discovery. From afar, they are fans or star bursts that capture your attention and draw you in with their detail.

Jonathan Clark installation, detail

Up close, they delight as you discern the post-it notes, paper clips, pencil erasers, matches, and much more that compose the pin wheels. Also, the intricate patterns of the pieces make for some interesting shadow play.

Jonathan Clark installation, detail

Most of my appreciation is simply visual and formal. The work doesn't seem to be particularly political. It is neither portraying corporate America as a pastel colored Deathstar or serving as a performance piece in which the artist as a member of the 99% (I'm using probability, here. He could be loaded) attempts to either cripple or bankrupt the 1%'s economic enterprises by hoarding all the office supply and turning it into abstract art mandalas and merchandise.

Jonathan Clark installation, detail

The star/pinwheel leitmotif does get a little tiresome after a while. But, I'm pretty sure Clark can snoop around after office hours and find some inspirational rectangles in his co-workers' desks.

Jonathan Clark installation

Perhaps among the spare change, clandestine photos, and secreted cigarettes, he'll discover a dusty leather portfolio with a legal pad in it and that will inspire him to get square.

Given the season, I'm surprised that Staples or Office Depot or some other retailer trafficking in office-school supplies hasn't hired him to do an entire series. Maybe then the kids would bring home office supply art projects that you could surreptitiously deconstruct as you needed to record a phone number or jot down a grocery list or remind yourself to send money to your favorite arts organization.

(All photos of Jonathan Clark's work are courtesy of Darke Gallery.)


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