false beard worn over another, multiple sunglasses, three hats.
In Aaron Van Dyke’s recent "self
portraits," the artist wears disguises over disguises.
The effect is comic, but also psychologically troubling. Why
would one possibly need a double disguise? A fake beard covers
the face, hiding identity. But this transformation can be productive,
the creation of a new character.
Dyke's works deal with redaction and its consequences. Redaction,
most commonly a blacking out of textual information, is different
than erasure. Redaction covers over, but does not obliterate,
information. The artist's January 2008 show at Western Exhibitions
will consist of large-format digital prints and sculptural work.
Presented in multiple formats and media, the "redacted"
prints use found text and imagery from a variety of sources,
ranging from Department of Defense documents to classic rock
album covers. Some of these prints are covered with clear caulk
and hair. The sculptural works are covered with small prints
smothered in layers of caulk. Van Dyke's methods in these pieces
include multiple layers of redaction, black-white inversions,
and the repeated use of Photoshop's "spray paint"
tool to conjure references to gestural painting and radical
chic of faux graffiti.
Dyke states of his new sculptures that he has "let go of
the idea of making a coherent object. Instead, I am making sculptures
that split and digress." This is true not just of the work's
referential promiscuity, but also of its physical status. Both
the sculptures and the prints are too large to be models, too
small to carry out the function of their referents, stuck between
being artworks and being only grounds for display.
roots of these works are political in the sense that their incoherence
and sloppy prettiness leaves us with the uneasiness of "rendering
politics aesthetic" (which, Walter Benjamin warned, leads
inevitably to war). The redactions also refer to repressed lines
of discourse. Peter Frampton, one of the show's most prominent
images, is included because of his ability to take one of the
deepest philosophical questions (indeed, one might even claim
the founding question in the study of subjectivity) and turn
it into a party anthem. "Do you feel like I do?"
is Aaron Van Dyke’s third solo show with
Western Exhibitions. His 2005 show at the gallery was reviewed
in Art Papers and Time Out Chicago. His recent solo shows include
the Kiehle Gallery at St. Cloud State University and Thomas
Barry Fine Art in Minneapolis as well as an upcoming solo show
at the Rochester Art Center. Van Dyke is a 2005/2006 recipient
of a MCAD/McKnight Foundation Fellowship and also runs an exhibition
space, Occasional Art, with Peg Brown in St. Paul, where he
lives and works.