Grier Edmundson, “Looking Around Looking”

Grier Edmundson. Looking Around Looking.

Fourteen30 Contemporary

by Daniel J Glendening

In Looking Around Looking, Grier Edmundson presents a body of work that addresses, to some degree, the difficulty of being human.

The exhibition balances four intertwined modes of working, consisting of a small body of oil on canvas paintings (abstract, representational, and text-based) hung sparingly on walls papered with silk-screened wallpaper. The wallpaper, composed of a mirrored photographic image of the collaps-ed/ing Tacoma Narrows Bridge, from a distance coalesces into an almost baroque pattern, tragedy (one small dog was killed in the collapse) and opulence converging.

The titular painting series, Looking Around Looking (I hope I get all the titles right, you’ll have to excuse me if I don’t. I’m new at this, and I forgot to write them down.) is a series of abstracts, following an apparently simple process of composition in which a set of arcs in red, yellow, green or blue, emerge like ripples from one side of the painting, each color from a different side, overlapping in a crudely intricate web. On the gallery’s east wall, two of these paintings hang as left-right/top-bottom mirror images.

On the west wall, a small abstract is paired with a larger text painting, I Am What I Am, and a small painting titled A Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man, depicting a chimpanzee, paintbrush in hand, hard at work on an expressive abstract. The south wall of the gallery contains just one painting, a smaller-sized portrait of Rick Welts, who, on May 15, 2011, came out as the first openly gay prominent American sports executive.

Grier Edmundson, "Looking Around Looking" installation view, Fourteen30 Contemporary

Like I said at the beginning, Edmundson presents a body of work that seems, in some way, to be addressing the difficulty of being human. We are socialized animals, socially encouraged to set aside our baser instincts and follow a more logical, analytical and systematic approach to the world. As a society, we cut chunks of the land out of the order of natural growth, out of the weeds and the brambles of the wild lands and divide it into grids, into repeated patterns, in some sort of attempt a wresting control of the world from the world. The Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapsed in 1940 due to a phenomenon known as aeroelastic flutter, a self-feeding vibration where aerodynamic forces on an object resonate with the object’s natural mode of vibration, producing a rapid, wave-like motion. This motion self-perpetuates and escalates, becoming, potentially destructive. The bridge collapsed in a 42 mph wind, human engineering toppling under natural forces.

It is the mirror self, the doppelganger on the other side of the reflection, underneath the ego. It is the secret life that every person carries around inside of them, those secret things that we fear, that we don’t think belong in the world, or that we don’t think the world is ready to hear. We are, after all, simply apes, barely able to restrain ourselves from flinging shit at our oppressors.

It is a quiet proclamation. I am that mirror-self. I am what I am.

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