- May 24, 2013 - April 6, 2014
For the past decade, Jason Middlebrook has been exploring the complex relationship between man and nature in his sculptures, installations, paintings, and large-scale drawings. Middlebrook’s interest in the state of the environment has been articulated in work that addresses the effects of human intervention in a range of landscapes, from the taming of the suburban yard to the building of the Alaskan Pipeline. References to the history of art and art-making are always present in Middlebrook’s work, which has made connections, for example, between the pipeline and the land art constructed in the same period.
The show at MASS MoCA looks at the artist’s recent forays into painting and features new works from the artist’s series of painted hardwood planks begun in 2008. Meditations on both sculptural form and abstract painting, this new work illustrates a shift in the artist’s practice since his move from New York City to a more rural environment near Hudson, New York. Working both with and against the grain of his organically shaped wooden supports, the artist points to abstraction’s roots in the natural world while again emphasizing an inherent conflict or desire to control the natural form with his use of hard-edged lines and glossy, industrial colors.
Responding to the unusual scale of MASS MoCA’s gallery, the artist will works with planks that in some instances reach tree-like heights, while others will retain a human scale. Middlebrook also debuts a new monumental, hanging mobile that functions like a fountain within the gallery. Titled Falling Water after Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic Kaufman residence, the work continues the artist’s exploration of manufactured nature while adding a twist to Wright’s notions of living in harmony with the environment.
This exhibition is supported by a grant from the Artist’s Resource Trust with additional funding provided by the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Hal & Jodi Hess, Robert & Nancy Magoon, and Kent & Vicki Logan.
I’ve Been Drawing Cliffs My Whole Life, 2013
Acrylic and spray paint on maple
93.625 × 41 × 1.375
Courtesy the artist and DODGEgallery, New York