The exhibition’s title refers to the original definition of supernatural: that which is not subject to the laws of physics, or exists above and beyond nature, which Horn sees as an apt description for how we navigate contemporary life – living beyond our means, at the expense of the natural world. Horn conceives of his exhibition as a 17th century wunderkabinett, a room filled with curiosities appropriated from the natural world, including authentic specimens, scientific phenomena, and sometimes fictitious mythological creatures. Supernatural offers a contemporary context for highlighting some of the challenges facing our environment – a wunderkabinett for an environment under duress.
For the past decade, Horn has been inspired by two primary sources: 17th-century jewelry patterns by Gilles Legaré, court jeweler to Louis XIV, and 19th-century studies of natural organisms such as lichen, coral, and seaweed, as found in the zoologist Ernst Haeckel’s book Art Forms in Nature. With this exhibition Horn draws on the creative spirit and flair for embellishment of both Legaré and Haeckel to create a body of intricately crafted, ornate, sculptural works using blown glass, cast lead crystal, and various metals. Horn has magnified Baroque hair ornaments and earring forms, replacing the ornate details and stonework with forms made to look like crenelated lichen and gorgonian coral fans.
Among the works on view will be Gorgonia 4 (Fukushima Fan Dance) and Gorgonia 6 (Bikini Atoll), large-scale recreations of jewelry patterns made out of nickel-plated bronze. The spine of the jewelry pattern has been replaced with gorgonian coral forms, dripping with baroque pearls of mirrored blown glass. Both works refer to real-world events. Gorgonia 4 takes its title from the Fukushima disaster, where contaminated water poured into the Pacific Ocean. Simultaneously referencing the tradition of Japanese fan dance, a delicate and highly practiced routine, Horn equates this with the precarious line that we walk with our natural environment. Gorgonia 6 refers to the island of Bikini Atoll where the U.S. performed nuclear tests. Horn conceives of this piece as a deity of the coral atoll, its forms radiating like shock waves. Also on view will be three Tree of Heaven works, which are composed of the forms of crenelated lichen. Lichen live in the filaments of fungus, developing a symbiotic relationship with their host, which makes them particularly sensitive to pollution and climate change. The title, Tree of Heaven, refers to the Chinese tree of the same name, known for its ability to thrive in difficult environments. Through this work Horn reflects on the natural beauty found in our world, and his pervading optimism for our environment.
Horn will also exhibit Mother-Load (2008), a three-quarters scale recreation of a baroque carriage encrusted in crystallized rock sugar, originally created for his exhibition Bitter Suite at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. The work will be accompanied by Self Portrait of Peter the Great(2010), which Horn created in collaboration with painter Julie Heffernan, depicting a lone figure surrounded by what appears to be mass slaughter or extinction.
Timothy Horn was born in Melbourne, Australia. He studied Sculpture at the Victorian College of the Arts and Glass at the Australian National University. In 2002 he received a Samstag Scholarship and moved to the U.S., where he completed his graduate work at Massachusetts College of Art. Horn's work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the de Young Museum, San Francisco, SJ ICA, San Jose, and Lux Art Institute, Encinitas. His work has also been featured in major group exhibitions including at the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, the Museum of Arts and Design, New York, GoMA, Brisbane, and the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.