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Zane's World: Here and There
By Zane Fischer

Published: May 10, 2006

BLACKSMITH BOUNTY

 

People get stupid around Jeremy Thomas’ sculpture. The slight bulge in their eyes and the slack-jawed lean of their faces give it away. It must have something to do with the candy-coated puffiness that his inflated steel forms exude; a soft, Oompah-Loompah-meets-O’Keeffe sexiness that urges indiscriminate squeezing and zealous fondling but for the embarrassment of being allured by such a flatulent bloat and the fear of being caught in the act by gallery staff at Charlotte Jackson Fine Art (200 W. Marcy St., 989-8688, charlottejackson.com; through May 28). Plus, there’s the straight-up stupefying indecision of what to make of a thing that is bright, bulbous and silly from one direction, pure sex from another angle and anime robot pontoons from a third. Thomas cuts sheet steel into petal forms, tubular sections and buxom spans, welding the edges together to create something like a metallic pastry that, once made red-hot in his considerable furnace, readily inflates with nothing but air pressure into a form a little like a high-gloss caterpillar getting it on with an accordion. If you’re getting the sense that one could exhaust a helping of absurdist imagery trying to suggest what Thomas’ work actually looks like, it’s because comparison is a bit pointless. The objects are singularly wonderful things, wholly their own and as malleable to personal interpretation or theory wonking as they are to heat and air. Named for their sumptuous industrial design finishes—“Branson Red,” “Ford Super Dexta Blue”—the best works are the largest, knee-to thigh-high collusions of arcs and swells, unapologetic and gloating on the floor. The work is clean and good-looking enough for corporate lobbies, but suggestive and sordid enough to subvert any such use—it’s juicy beauty with a blowhole. These are Thomas’ most complex works yet, but the principle remains the same. “You’ve got to get to the point with steel that it’s actually plastic,” Thomas says—something any blacksmith understands but most of the rest of us have to take as a koan of sorts—which just adds to the cosmic joke/Zen wisdom of the stupid look people get confronting the contradictory nature of this work. What art could be more successful than one that equalizes viewers in common, anti-intellectual dumbfoundedness.

Charlotte Jackson Fine Art, Contemporary American and European Art