Walking into Studio Hart from the afternoon noise of Allen Street to face Gerald Mead’s newest body of work is immediately jarring; each work of art is coolly presented as if it were a specimen under glass, perfectly spaced and aligned on the gallery walls. The physical presence of the series is compulsively repetitive and perfected down to the smallest of collaged details. Every work of art contains a vignette of collage – carefully culled from the artist’s own archive – and constructed as both reliquaries to past work, and homages to specific places, events and individuals.
Contained in circular dioramas that sit slightly higher than center in each piece, the work within this new series calls to mind examination – vis-à-vis microscopes and magnifying glasses – and reflection, weather literally through the layered glass of each piece, or symbolically from the richly layered and tightly crafted pieces, which are meant to evoke memento mori and the artist’s own experiences, alike. Each diorama rests upon a square which echoes the inner composition of each collage, and intensifies the desired affect of the piece, whether it is solemnity, reverence, lusciousness, or desire.
Examining Mead’s pieces, it is easy to be consumed by the beautiful minutiae, but what springs to mind amid this body of work, however, is the idea of floating; each piece becomes a cloud across which the artist’s history and hopes play like sunlight, frozen within a fleeting instant and illuminating a constellation of interwoven imagery. Mead also goes out of his way to mine art historically significant elements such as the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian and Cubist collage, specifically in 4MA (Mining the Archive). This piece serves as the apotheosis of the show, proudly displaying bits from the proverbial cutting room floor that did not make it into the other twenty-four pieces within the exhibit. It also houses one of Mead’s x-acto razor blades, worn down and recycled into the rarefied space of art, after serving to make art itself.
Mining the Archive: New Works by Gerald Mead is on view at Studio Hart, located at 65 Allen Street, Buffalo, NY through March 25, 2017. The artist will also be giving a short talk about his newest body work on March 25 at 2:30pm.