Simone Subal Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of Sam Ekwurtzel’s Renderings on Sunday, September 8, 2019. This is Ekwurtzel’s third solo show at the gallery. The exhibition runs until October 27, 2019. Please join us for an opening reception on September 8 from 6 – 8 pm.
Ekwurtzel’s latest body of work focuses on commercially available aluminum bollards. Ubiquitous in the urban landscape, bollards are often used to prevent unwanted vehicle traffic around building entrances. For Renderings, Ekwurtzel works with four bollard types, with two examples of each. To fashion each piece, he employs an innovative and counterintuitive technique he has experimented with for the last few years. He painstakingly coats each bollard in layers of a liquid ceramic material that is commonly used to build molds in the metal casting industry. Ekwurtzel then loads the ceramic encrusted bollard into a kiln and fires it to a temperature of 1500 degrees Fahrenheit, a bright orange/red heat, causing the bollard to melt inside of its shell and drain out, forming a pool of molten metal. What remains is a 3/8” hollow ceramic shell structure and a now solidified aluminum outflow, in which slight variations in firing temperature, time, and the kiln-position of the bollard produced variety in the metal flow behavior.
Ekwurtzel has regularly investigated the processes and materials involved in industrial manufacturing and construction. He’s interested in how so many of these elements remain hidden to most people despite their necessity in everyday life. Ekwurtzel, though, twists and turns these techniques and materials, often using them against their stated purpose, finding poetic connections from transforming the mundane into something formally sophisticated. With Renderings, industrial molds are his subject. A single mold is typically used to generate many identical objects, converting formless raw material into reliably consistent product. Here, in a physical inversion of the typical casting process, the mold instead produces a unique one-off signature- each outflow onto the rectangular field of the kiln floor may be observed as a non-referential composition. Ekwurtzel’s last exhibition at the gallery, Late Morning Early Spring, dealt with the moment of origin for a set of building materials. Products manufactured at the same moment in time but in physically distant locations were brought together in sculptures. In Ekwurtzel’s current series, we again see pairs of identical objects, but in this case we witness a conclusion- the moment where a product returns to a raw material state.
Rendering is a term most commonly used today to refer to the final production of something digital. But Ekwurtzel returns the word to its analog origins: to melt, to extract. These actions literally occur here, and with Ekwurtzel the strangeness of his activity appears in every work. Nothing is without connotations. The inclusion of bollards speaks to their long history, their specific design to halt movement, whether sailing vessels or automobiles. They seem a telling object to invoke for our relentlessly fast era. But there is also the question of labor. As with almost all of Ekwurtzel’s art, these are incredibly labor intensive pieces, activities and actions that he always hides from the viewer. He never visually foregrounds his presence, and yet it lurks in every detail, in every pattern of the hardened molten aluminum. It suggests a complete dedication to something absurd, even useless, all in the service of making something profound.
Sam Ekwurtzel (born 1983) lives and works in New York. Solo exhibitions include: Renderings, Simone Subal Gallery, New York, NY (2019); Room Temperature, The Richard and Dolly Maass Gallery at SUNY Purchase, NY (2019); Late Morning Early Spring, Simone Subal Gallery, New York, NY (2016); Public Sector, Simone Subal Gallery, Art Basel Miami Beach, FL (2014); Dunnage, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA (2014); and The ghost in the machine, Simone Subal Gallery, New York, NY (2014). Past group exhibitions include: Glass Age, Helena Anrather, New York (2019); LISTE, Simone Subal Gallery, Basel, Switzerland (2018); Redirecting, Simone Subal Gallery, New York, NY (2017); The public sphere, Green Farm project, NY (2017); Fieldwork, curated by Nicholas Baume, Bass Museum of Art, Miami, FL (2014); Sunny in the Furnace (with Aki Sasamoto) The Kitchen, New York, NY (2014); Centripetal March (with Aki Sasamoto) Chocolate Factory Theater, New York, NY (2012); It’s When It’s Gone That You Really Notice It, Simone Subal Gallery, New York, NY (2012); and A Failed Entertainment, Virginia Commonwealth University Fine Arts Gallery, Richmond, VA (2011). Ekwurtzel has been awarded numerous grants and fellowships including the Windgate Fellowship, Fountainhead Fellowship, Alice C. Cole Fellowship, Shifting Foundation Grant, Visual Arts Sea Grant, and Oscar Williams and Gene Derwood Grant.