Friday, July 16, 2010

J.T. Kirkland: "White: Part 1"

J.T. Kirkland currently has the first half of what will be a two-part show up at Christopher West Presents in Indianapolis. White: Part 1 is a strong, focused grouping of neo-minimalist wood sculptures, all of which hang on the wall. Elegant and understated yet also bold in their execution, the work in this show channels minimal art pioneers such as Robert Morris and Dan Flavin because of the way the art is so responsive to and derived from the physical gallery space that it occupies. Kirkland says he is especially influenced by the art of Robert Irwin in this regard.
Fortress, 2008

One piece, Dormer, was actually created specifically for the show with the Christopher West Presents gallery space in mind. Its dimensions are one fourth of the size of the windows that it hangs between. This piece was created after Kirkland began looking into Irwin's work, and is designed to be able to function on its own in any space, not just on the specific gallery wall it was created for.
Dormer, 2010

The only media Kirkland employs in White: Part 1 are Wenge wood and a shade of white paint specifically chosen to blend in with the gallery walls. Thus, the work succeeds at times in obscuring the boundary between artwork and gallery wall. In each piece, it is interesting where and how Kirkland utilizes the white paint. He says that he chooses titles reluctantly, sometimes waiting years to assign a title to a piece. His inspiration from and emphasis on the inherent beauty of wood recalls H.C. Westermann, although it is manifested quite differently in the end result. Slope, 2008

Only once in White: Part 1 does Kirkland really jump into the third dimension with a piece that juts out into the space rather than sitting flat on the wall, but the result is remarkable. Elbow Afloat is easily the strongest piece in the show, and a refreshing example of how very alive minimal art is today. Recalling Sol LeWitt's sculptural explorations of the broken cube, Elbow Afloat seems like it could function with various installation configurations. The shadows that it casts on the gallery walls are incredible. Elbow Afloat, 2008

The next half of the show will feature all-new work, in which Kirkland will be painting on plywood and exploring color. White: Part 2 opens at Christopher West Presents on July 22, 2010. In the meantime, check out a conversation I had with J.T:

Conversation with JT Kirkland from Charles Fox on Vimeo.

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