The ancient symbol of the Ouroboros—the serpent that eats its own tail—dates back to around 15th Century B.C. Egypt. Since then, it has been used in various religious, secular, and spiritual contexts—including Gnosticism, mythology, Jungian psychology, even alchemy—to represent, among other things, regeneration from within, the transcendence of dualities, and the perpetual cycle of life. Plato himself spoke of the Ouroboros as the first living entity and as a metaphor of the self-sustaining qualities of the natural world. By simultaneously feeding and consuming itself, the Ouroboros is both constantly present and subject to constant reiteration, as with the snake that repeatedly sheds its own skin. Likewise, the works exhibited in Ouroboros is Broken present material in states of relative incarnation.
Jerry Blackman’s extruding wall reliefs exist as artifacts of an intensive process where forms are forged and translated through multiple phases of casting and excavation. While their monochrome appearance may seem to obscure their layered history, the finished works retain palpable evidence of their own making—from the fiberglass mesh supporting their resin bodies, to the pink resin itself peering through the outer surface, down to the woodgrains inscribed in the fractured disks, owing to the plywood used to build the first molds in their construction. Throughout this process, byproducts and supporting materials such as rubber, resin, plaster, foam, wood, and latex are incorporated into subsequent works and their custom molds wherever possible; this literal recycling also reflects Blackman’s philosophical research and contemplations—including the tenets of Buddhism on non-duality and rebirth—that inspire and are integral to his practice.
The uniform steel hanging mechanisms in Blackman’s reliefs—which tether the internal and sui generis aspects of the works to the physical laws of gravity, mass, and architecture—present themselves on the face of the works with four screw heads that denote a central square constellation. This hardware is structurally functional but is also a deliberate allusion to the sites where once circular plaster disks were broken roughly along their symmetrical score lines. With their organically reflexive features—and through his high-fidelity casting process—Blackman creates enigmatic objects in which interior and exterior, past and present, are fused in a single material instance.
Jim Gaylord’s hard-edged paper constructions—with their tessellated compositions and bold, often kaleidoscopic colors—may at first give the impression of being frenetic or chaotic. Yet the works possess an underlying logic and graphical elements that, on closer view, make Gaylord’s largely abstract imagery feel universal and even somehow familiar. While the compositions are not homogenous or regular—rather they are quirky and idiosyncratic—the appearance of point symmetry is present in each work; forms in one quadrant are flipped and rotated around the composition, lending a relatable sense of order through mirroring and repetition. As in nature, suggestions of pattern, geometry, and anatomy—such as an eye shape on the wings of a peacock—are perceived as matter of fact despite being necessary only within the ecosystem of Gaylord’s practice, where the subconscious processing of visual information is an ongoing concern.
The content of Gaylord’s current paintings actually represents a third generation abstraction of previous work by the artist. With each new series in this lineage, Gaylord digitally scans and deconstructs a portion of imagery from the preceding generation, transforming it into something different and unrecognizable; the new image is then assembled out of many fragments of paper which Gaylord first paints with gouache or spray paint. Gaylord’s work thus embodies a closed system that can exist perpetually through its own devices. And these paradoxical compositions—seemingly resolved and inevitable, on the one hand, excited and unruly on the other—both emphasize and question the distinction between order and disorder.
Together, these works by Blackman and Gaylord demonstrate stark contrasts—of rough and smooth surface, weight and apparent weightlessness, flatness and three-dimensional projection, color and monochrome, to name only the most obvious. At the same time, these artists give form to the notion that such ostensible dichotomies—and the cyclical events that produced them—may not be quite so settled.
-Adam Yokell, September, 2016