Christopher Pate: Jail Gallery

By Miles, Christopher | Artforum International, January 2009 | Go to article overview

Christopher Pate: Jail Gallery


Miles, Christopher, Artforum International


So apropos was this show's centerpiece to a state of affairs that has only just come into focus--the too-shallow foundation of recent skyrocketing global economic growth--that it suggested an artist adept at reading and translating the culture around him in ways that seem almost prophetic. Completed earlier last year, the work, titled Bricks, comprises six roughly square panels of the same size, hung on the wall in pyramid formation. Pate has covered each panel first with burlap and then with fabric silk-screened with a blue sky and puffy white clouds, and, over that, with white mortar patterns: surreal Magritte-like compositions, in which skies appear as so many bricks. On each panel, Pate has isolated a pyramidal stack of six bricks and covered it with gold leaf, presenting it as a substance both precious and suggestive of superficiality. And while the low positioning of these stacks within their compositions implies a state of gravity, the single row of cloud-bricks beneath them suggests a fundamental airiness and ethereality. Whether visionary or cynical, the work continues Pate's long standing practice of making highly formalized, finely crafted, and often abstract and poetic works with interrogative underpinnings.

Bricks was more abstract, open-ended, and globally resonant than the other pieces, which more specifically addressed America and its representations. Over the course of his career, Pate has shifted the materials and aesthetics of his work in ways that reflect whatever his current interests may be. His latest exhibition showed a distinctly Rauschenbergian turn, or, more generally, a Pop-and post-Pop-inspired one. …

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