Painting and Sculpture Make Easy — If Admittedly Strange — Bedfellows in a New Exhibition

Familiars — Fisher Parrish gallery’s new exhibition of work by the Los Angeles painter Aaron Elvis Jupin and Rhode Island-based sculptor Zach Martin — makes easy, if admittedly still strange, bedfellows of the pair’s divergent mediums.

Martin’s work is appropriately described as “eerie,” evoking as it does familiar forms gone awry. The press materials describe them as “perverse biomorphic sculptures,” with a “physical presence that is uncannily familiar, while at the same time unsettling and alien.” We’ve seen these shapes before, but in what context? The pieces seem almost regurgitated, limping in between one state of being on their way to the next. But they are still chairs, and lamps, and tables. Martin’s practice is called Interior Theatre, the guiding principle of which is “attempting to give voice to objecthood.” “If you give [objects] a stage, let them exist unto their own, you will find a stirring in their form, a gesture taking shape,” reads his website. It’s an interesting proposition, if not a question we’ve heard asked before — when does a thing become more than a thing? When the lights go out? And when does objecthood preclude the potential for something to be more?

Jupin, for his part, finds a deep well of inspiration in the subliminally-fucked world of Walt Disney and has fittingly created a body of work that reads at times like Satan’s Looney Tunes, though the pieces are far more complex than that statement implies. His paintings and illustrations are titled like some prelude to catastrophe, a personal moral failure setting the stage for some sort of Beckettian rapture: “They’re the ones that drove me out of this town,” “I’m not what you see,” “I’ve been a mess inside,” “Now That You’re Gone,” “I’m Lucky To Have Met You.” The duo’s fascination with interiority sets the stage for a glimpse into some uncertain future; their works in harmony creating a sense of unease that speaks to a broader darkness ahead. The pieces in Familiars are subconscious, the artists asking us as much as themselves what will happen next. It’s probably not all bad. Right?

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