Warrior Dash is a two-person show of paintings and sculptures by Jamison Brosseau and JR Larson, curated by Fran Holstrom. Both artists have developed their own visual languages that, on the surface, allude to primitive cultures. Brosseau's colorful figurative abstractions could easily be interpreted as records of exchange, visual almanacs or depictions of real or imagined monsters; while Larson's installations include hybrid paintings and sculptures, combining modern materials with handmade "tools" that could function in the life of a hunter, or as adornment during rituals. Both Brosseau & Larson offer sincere material investigations, and through prolific repetition, a system of symbols emerges.
Jamison Brosseau arranges colorful shapes, loosely painted and repainted, within the borders of deceivingly simple biomorphic forms. The multiple appendages of his figures nearly reach the borders, as if captured in the space of the painting--they have a menacing/bewildered quality, akin to Odilon Redon's early creatures, such as The Crying Spider (1881) and The Cyclops (1898). It is said of the Symbolist movement, of which Redon was a key player that "the physical universe is a kind of language that invites a privileged spectator to decipher it, although this does not yield a single message so much as a superior network of associations."1 Similarly, Brosseau fully embraces the ambiguity of abstraction, while his titles occasionally offer us a hint into the complex psyche of the artist.
JR Larson repeats sculptural forms such as oculi, arches and arrows, as seen in Double Bow, two delicate slivers of dark wood are bent and bound by sinew, resting atop a wooden fulcrum braced with a piece of industrial stainless steel. Elegantly taught as if set as a snare, the collision of materials- untempered versus store-bought- snap us back to reality and we are left to confront the "whatness" of each piece, comparing the purity of the materials themselves with the formal constraints the artist has given them. Larson's wall-hung work pleasantly draws on pattern & decoration, the simple repeating forms are pierced by roughly whittled and white-washed "tools" made by the artist, perhaps commenting on an obsolete form of survival that today is mere fodder for reality shows.
In an attempt to move beyond ethnographic entrapment, that which is experienced in a museum, with stilted artifacts stripped from their original context, easily passed by on the way to the loo, we urge the viewer to keep in mind that while signaling to a distant land, or a culture predating written language, these artworks were made by a couple of white dudes with the gallery in mind. This is their context, completed by your viewership.
The title of the exhibition refers to a race in which participants are broken into categories and run a muddy obstacle course, often in costume—followed by a festival. Warrior Dash is an apt metaphor for the rigor of one's artistic studio practice, art openings, and art careers in general, but more specifically, as it relates to this exhibition, is a nod to multiculturalism and the mythopoeic men's movement of the 1980s in which "civilized" folk tried to reconnect with nature through spiritual and emotional work. Thirty years later, connected by chat rooms instead of support groups, and wikis instead of local libraries, it seems even more necessary to recalibrate our spiritual compass. The confident handling of materials and unwavering output of Jamison Brosseau and JR Larson is testament that even within our media soaked culture there is something primal within us, waiting to be discovered.
Jamison Brosseau has recently exhibited in group shows at DODGE Gallery and ZieherSmith in Manhattan as well as V1 in Copenhagen. He has an upcoming show this spring with Halsey McKay gallery in the Hamptons, NY. Brosseau holds an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. He also runs the project space WILDLIFE in Bushwick and is a professional fabricator for Cub Craft.
JR Larson has recently exhibited in group shows at St. Cecilia in Brooklyn and Hal Bromm in Manhattan, with a solo show last summer at Active Space in Bushwick. He attended Rutgers Mason Gross School of the Arts and the Boston Museum School. He works professionally as a cinematographer and makes artwork in video, performance, drawing, painting and sculpture.
Fran Holstrom is a Brooklyn based artist and curator. Recent curatorial projects include: Death of the Affect (ART BLOG ART BLOG, NYC), Improbable Self: Notes from the Void (St. Cecilia, NYC), ^..^ / :) (Casita Maria, NYC) and a two part show Anti-Anti/Non-Non (Hal Bromm, NYC). Fran enjoys writing, researching and making videos. She holds an MFA from Pratt Institute and is a member of the Art Book Club.