Andrew Ross “Hallmark” at Clima Gallery, Milan
A hallmark is a stamp. A repeatable gesture rendered in 3D but read as a 2D symbol. The word has also become a name for a brand associated with sentimentality. Both connotations are of concern to Andrew Ross in his show of the same name. Taken at face value, the works in “Hallmark” explore a reoccurring theme of the artist’s, innocent or innocuously positive imagery re-made via the lens of an unreliable or perhaps mischievous illustrator. Or put another way, illustrations made to shift in associations of their imagery.
Ross began this series through contemplation of an object which became somewhat of a personal emblem, a shipping barrel filled with old discarded goods. It’s a common custom for expats of Caribbean countries to collect items in blue shipping barrels to send home. The barrel becomes an intermediary to floating context-less-ness for objects of fleeting sentimentality. Ross renders objects which at times may appear to define us as they move out of context; commemorative apparel, and hallmark cards denoting a rite of passage. He began with the pursuit of exposing the fragility and inaccuracies (in attempts to generalize or make universal) of temporal symbols, but later realizing the symbolic nature of his own work, the process shifted. This lead to the works Second Hand 1 and 2, for which the artist created a digital model of a t-shirt in simulated glass, and by placing images of his own previous works (works that will never again be shown) behind the glass created new images out of the refraction, which abstractly placed his work on t-shirts. Putting his own work on t-shirts, as images printed on fabric with the same reactive dyes that are commonly used in apparel, Ross begins a conversation around value, ubiquity and obscurity.
The drawings in the show are studies of a new motif that the artist is exploring which stems from a years-long investment in experimental mold-making, and an interest in the design of mass produced objects. The drawings are analogous to low relief. The pressure of the pencil on paper is relative to the distance from the viewer, inverting the light in the drawing and making them more like images of mold shells than objects in space. While working with 3D models to make printed imagery, Ross found tremendous potential in a concept known as displacement mapping, a way in which a value scale can directly correlate to depth. So a drawing can become a potential hallmark (stamp) as a displacement map. The drawings are rendered through a process transcribing their inverse – the hollow forms of 3D models become flat images. The end result is a map of the 3d model as seen from another perspective, revealed by a machine. An image that was always tethered to the original, one of its infinite shadows, a nod to the unexpected intersections that the object may cross over time. Despite all this, the object may still interject, Congrats! Great Job! And Get Well Soon!
At Clima Gallery, Milan
until 18 January 2020