John Isaacs “ARCHIPELAGO from a distance you look smaller but I know that you are there” at Galleria Poggiali, Milan
The Galleria Poggiali is delighted to present “ARCHIPELAGO – from a distance you look smaller but I know that you are there” by John Isaacs, the first solo show of the English artist in the gallery’s Milan premises. The opening of the exhibition, curated by Pierre Yves Desaive, coincides with Art Week and miart 2018, the twenty-third edition of the modern and contemporary art fair, and will run up to 29 June 2018. For his Milan solo show the artist is presenting a single project consisting of three elements created for the occasion – a sculpture, a neon light and a photograph – each a reflection on the subject of time, its sacredness and its perception.
John Isaacs, a multifaceted artist with a career of over twenty years behind him, began in England as one of the Young British Artists (YBA). In 2005 he moved to Berlin, where he continues to live and work; here his poetics has evolved, becoming increasingly more eclectic and less tied to the British style. In his work he has used a variety of media, from painting to sculpture and photography. He has also employed a range of materials including bronze, neon light, wax and ceramic. This constant shifting of language is closely bound up with his research on the nature of man, on paradox, on the difficulties of contemporary life and the social pressures generated by economics.
The curator of the show, Pierre Yves Desaive, underscores how ARCHIPELAGO revolves around the apparently utopic need to conciliate the demands of the individual with the crushing burden of all humanity, alluding to the historic but precarious interconnections of all our lives.
Isaacs’ work generates altered modes of perceiving history: approaching materials that declare their time, the artist transforms past and novelty into ambiguous categories and, through his works, ponders the symbolism of religious institutions and popular culture to re-establish parameters of value and meaning.
The empty temple (2018) is a sculpture made from ceramic, shellac, epoxy resin and 23 carat gold leaf in the form of a life-size excavator blade. This is an apparently solid work but is actually made from fragile ceramic. It appears in the shape of progress and reflects our present, while at the same time representing the beliefs of the past and recalling a relic more than a piece of construction equipment, almost a cult object resurfacing from remote times.
From a distance you look smaller but I know that you are there (2018) is a legend written in neon, a luminous note handwritten on the wall which, consistently with Isaacs’ typical attitude, sets the categories of past, present and future on a collision course. It is a graffito in light in which the reference to artists such as Merz and Nauman is intrinsic, and the apparently direct message is in fact once again open. Like a memo, the work indeed has the capacity to make us alter our point of view, reminding us of the infinite possibilities of change.
The third work on show, a perfect soul (2018), is a photograph of the artist’s wife and daughter, an immediate reference to the narrative of the family, of love, of the myth of life cycles and the memory of one generation that influences another. It is an intimate image with a strong emotional charge that anyone can relate to, but the order is inverted and it is the child who is embracing her mother rather than the opposite. Once again Isaacs poses a question about our linear notion of time, urging a return to belief in magic and lightness. He proposes an emotional flow moving in several directions at once, so that we can model our future on a past normally not perceived.
The initial alienation triggered by the works of this artist concerns an essence shared by all human beings, a sensation that is sublimated by the great diversity of means and materials that can capture the imagination of the observer. Language and references aim to open up to new dialogues so that, rather than the meaning being confirmed, it is instead eliminated to reveal the emotional dimension of things and their relation with the human being.
at Galleria Poggiali, Milan
until 29 June 2018