Opening reception: Saturday, November 9, 2019 from 3-5 p.m.
Brandon Vickerd: Wrong Place, Wrong Time
Art Mûr Montreal
Text by Geneviève Marcil
Translation by Noémie Chevalier
Brandon Vickerd has previously explored anthropomorphic hybridity and technological advances through taxidermy and mechanics. For the exhibition Wrong Place, Wrong Time, the artist revisits these themes, this time focusing on the casting of bronze, Vickerd draws anachronistic and incongruous juxtapositions from this material, which recalls both ancient statuary and modern public monuments. These associations provoke laughter or discomfort and stand out in the gallery’s space as well as in the urban setting for which a large part of its production is intended. This is probably where the contextual and temporal inconsistencies evoked by the title of the exhibition lie.
Inspired by the material tradition of bronze, the artist draws extensively on references to Greek mythology, which he enjoys subverting. With Atlas (2019), Vickerd reverses the famous story of the world’s carrier. Rather than bravely supporting the weight of the world, the Titan seems besieged by multiple spheres that hide his upper body, showing only his distinguished shoes and dressed pants. The sculpture Flora Hominis (2019) illustrates a transitional state between the human and the plant, the detail of which evokes the metamorphosis of the Daphne nymph into a tree, once immortalized by the Bernini. The artist presents here a fragmentary study of this monument commissioned by the Royal Botanical Gardens of Burlington, Ontario. While the statue is intended to honour the founder of the place, he is paradoxically rendered unrecognizable by the vegetation that proliferates on his face. In this way, Vickerd replaces the heroic celebration of his subjects with a partial occultation of their identity.
The sculptor skillfully combines classical themes with the signifiers of the disappointed promises of modernist ideology. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the first American moon landing, Oblivion (Dead Astronaut #2) (2019) is taking a hard look at the project to conquer space. The skull that erupts from the astronaut’s helmet, combined with the badges bearing the American flag and NASA logo that appear fossilized in the bronze surface, act as a memento mori of a nation’s dream of greatness. The whole is simultaneously a relic of the Cold War and the optimism of the last century in terms of technological progress.
Through these games of concealment and revelation, the artist exacerbates the formal and thematic tensions at the heart of his sculptures as much as he makes fun of them. The various social clothes he depicts, from complete corporate ties to space suits and riot police equipment (Riot, 2019), suggest the symbolic power associated with these archetypes while pointing out their inevitable purpose. As such, Vickerd gravitates somewhere between Ovid and Kubrick in his critical exploration of the past and his lucid anticipation of the future.