JASON ROBERT BELL
The Tetragrammatron Archive – Installment 2 – Zero Paintings
May 27 through August 14, 2011
Opening reception Friday May 27, 6-8PM
Continuing with Jason Robert Bell’s year-long project The Tetragrammatron Archive in Thomas Robertello Gallery’s new micro gallery, the artist presents Zero Paintings: three new painting/sculptural hybrids. These works are experiments to invoke and deflect pareidolia, the phenomena by which we imagine faces in random arrangements of objects, forms, and patterns. All of the objects that have found their wayward ways to these canvases are something of great emotional value to the artist: tokens of lost loves, gifts from long distant friends, unfinished diagrams for back burner projects, and debts. Each momento mori, imbued with hope and fear is presented as a mask of God, created out of nothing but a pile of trash, with gravity and drying speed being the final designers.
Jason Robert Bell graduated from the School of the Art Institute Chicago with a BFA in Painting in 1995, and the Yale School of Art’s MFA program in 2000. Bell’s paintings, drawings, sculpture, experimental films, outdoor installations, and performances have been exhibited in New York, most recently at Postmasters Gallery and the Fountain Art Fair, Boston, Miami, Washington DC, Baltimore, San Francisco, Tokyo, and many times in Chicago.
Statement from the artist:
" There is an Indian legend that at a certain time in the life of a young man he is given a dream in which he sees a mask, and when he awakens he must set to work carving a real mask in that dream image. This is the mask he must wear into battle in order to be victorious. It was as if Joe Buck had had such a dream, and his life was given over to the carving of the mask." – James Leo Herlihy, Midnight Cowboy
These works are experiments in invoking Pareidolia—the phenomena in which we imagine faces in random arrangements of objects, forms, and patterns. You the viewer are creating what you desire to see in the arrangements I have created. Each assemblage at once forms and negates any actual image. Eyes, mouths, noses, beards, cheekbones, and other facial characteristics appear to emerge from the works. However none of them are anything more than an arrangement of various found objects. Who or what you see is up to you, not I.
" I have placed a mark of my own design, to take the space of nothing in factors of ten to the infinite." – Al Khwarizmi
These works were created to explore my fascination with the Islamic taboo against depicting images — particularly the human figure and most importantly the Prophet Mohammed himself – and its correlation with our societal prohibition against revealing the lack of any real value associated with our currency. The economy is just as vastly immaterial as any deity or prophet, yet we are constantly attempting to visualize it in the form of money. It is the face of terror that is at once real and a complete illusion.
As I worked on these pieces, the images, faces, characters, and all-to-human dramas that began to appear before me, became clear and connected. My personal debts to institutions such as Capital One, the IRS, and my self-sacrificing art dealer (which, are all fair debts, that I amassed in my attempts to live a survivable life of some sort), these debts, all seemingly never ending and ever increasing, have become the deities of my life. These are the faces I see when I close my eyes.
The unimaginable greenbacked Leviathan that was once Alexander Hamiliton, being held for ransom under the Pentagon, is the God, “In God We Trust”, the Ponzi scheme Shell Game called the Economy, All my debts, all of yours, They are the Mask of God, The Face Behind the White Burning Veil at Twilight, and simultaneously nothing but a pile of trash. You, the Eye of the Beholder, the Rooster Angel whose crest brushes the vault of heaven, see what you choose to see, holding a jewel in the place of a grain, and casting it out as garbage.
“Those who create images of life, would be punished on the Day of Resurrection and it would be said to them: Breathe soul into what you have created. When they fail they will be thrown into the abyss.” – Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith
Jason Robert Bell, 2011