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For Immediate Release:
the greater good
May 31 – July 13, 2007
Opening Reception: Thursday, May 31, 6-8pm
We are pleased to announce Tom Meacham’s second solo show with Oliver Kamm/5BE Gallery.
The title of the second solo exhibition of recent paintings and sculpture by Tom Meacham, “the greater good”, suggests both the altruistic motto of a liberal democrat and the self-convincing rhetoric of a vigilante. Meacham offers an uneasy equation of extremes through a body of work that employs grid motifs on canvas, wood sculptures of “specific object” lineage, consumer objects and mundane materials.
The piece that lends its name to the show is a large table constructed not as an homage to Juddian Modernism but as a deliberate misreading and displacement of those formal concerns. Laid out on its surface are dozens of knives of varying degrees of menace, from stiletto to machete. This unnerving collection, purchased in bulk through a late night home shopping network, seems designed to appeal not to the average consumer but to those who wish to amass private arsenals. What first appears to be a conventional display of weapons soon reveals a composition organized with the formal principles of a painting. The table’s base, constructed in the form of an ‘X’, reiterates crossed swords in piece that is a simple and sinister meditation on choice and freedom.
The trihedral motif in the larger paintings, rendered in either electrical tape or ink jet on canvas, is an appropriation of the ceiling at the Yale Art Gallery, designed by Louis Kahn in 1951. Kahn’s innovation, to expose the structure that housed the building’s inner working systems in an elegant and elemental repeating form, was enabled by the Modernist ideology of his day. In Meacham’s work, signs that historically generate ideas of strength and stability are pulled to the opposite pole. In his paintings, imperceptible flaws in measurement, proportion and scale are allowed to accumulate and accrue as the triangular module repeats, resulting in subtly disconcerting optics. The resulting images appear simultaneously relentless and unsustainable. The tape paintings in particular, either hung on or leaning against the wall, appear to be both bandage and scaffold. In Meacham’s own words, ‘the system self-destructs’ with a confrontationally scaled ‘K’, oscillating between polar readings- full (thousands) and empty (strike out). Viewed from another perspective, the symbol dissolves and the piece re-organizes as sculpture- 3 pieces of tape on a plinth.
Mondrian once famously stated, "If we cannot free ourselves, we can free our vision". Early in the last century, in order to pursue a neo-plasticist ideal of balance and universal repose, Mondrian abandoned the modular grid because it implied the tragedy of a rigidly ordered vision. Tom Meacham relies upon this tragedy. Every fulcrum point becomes a chance to unbalance the load.
- Cheryl Donegan
Oliver Kamm/5BE Gallery is located at 621 West 27th Street on the ground floor. Gallery hours are Tuesday - Saturday from 11am - 6pm. We will be closed July 1-4 and open after July 5, Monday - Friday from 11am-6pm.