Category Archive for: ‘Carol Benet’

Two Art/ Architecture Exhibits in Cincinnati, Ohio

Two Art/ Architecture Exhibits in Cincinnati, Ohio

Carol Benet

Two innovative artists, Chris Larson and Mark de Jong, have been awarded intriguing exhibits at the Lois and Richard Rosenthal Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The renovated museum itself is somewhat of a wonder as it was designed by Zaha Hadid and completed in 2003.  The “Starchitect” Hadid had completed interesting buildings and museums all over the world before her untimely death in 2016 at the age of 65.

The CAC , one of her best design, also achieved notoriety in 1990 before the renewal when it was sued over exhibiting Robert Mapplethorpe’s photographs then considered pornography.  The museum and its director, Dennis Barry, were finally acquitted but by then the exhibit had travelled all over the country.

Currently two artists, both 52 years old, are each awarded an entire floor of the museum.  Chris Larson’s “Function is Redundant” is a series of photographs and items from his earlier works.  One group of photos concentrates on a house in his home territory Minnesota in the middle of winter where the exterior and interior have been covered with layers of ice that cover the outside and the common objects in a bedroom and kitchen.   One image shows a simple white wooden glad house in the middle of a snowy setting.  A bedroom has white curtains dripping with icicles and a kitchen has table and chairs and appliances frozen in time.

Photographs of “The Raft”, “Crush Collision” and “Heavy Rotation” show the artists’s fascination with change and with spinning and transforming walls and objects.  His studio, some of which is on display, has fascinated artists such as famous artists Bruce Nauman and Dieter Roth.  Here a part of the studio is seen with a water floor with a covered water and then the whole room rotates so that the water then covers the walls as if it were a floor.

In a corner of the second floor of the museum, otherwise devoted to Mark de Jong, Larson has reproduced a room in the museum with shelves on the wall and other office furniture but here he has rotated the room 90 degrees so that shelves with books are now topsy-turvy.

In another work is a pastiche of a Magritte painting called “Not to be Reproduced” from 1937 that shows the influence of this Belgian surrealist on Larson. Literary references, especially to Flannery O’Connor’s short story “Wise Blood”, are noteworthy as Larson admired her distortions. Like O’Connor, the painter’s thinks  “Nothing is ever resolved.”

Mark de Jong is a Cincinnati artist who’s “Swing House” is the subject of his installation on the second floor of the museum.  Here he took the interior items and some from outside of a house in a neighborhood of modest homes in a a section of Cincinnati called Camp Washington for the installation. For his “Swing House” he gutted all the interior including the floors and made one three story room on the main level that serves as kitchen, dining area, living room and bedroom, all without divisions.

From the ceiling of the third floor he extended a swing that comes down to the same level as the bed on the existing first floor.  The inside walls of what were once separate rooms are exposed with the different wall papers peeling from age.  Parts of these walls and  bricks and stones from outside are on display.  Most striking for the museum installation is the central interior staircase that has been disassembled and put together at all new angles.  De Jong has taken slats or strips of wooden pieces from the interior walls and fashioned them into different forms, one a large empty cylindrical. Punched out circles of all different colors of plaster are displayed on the wall in an attractive pattern .  The artist De Jong ran a high end interior refinishing business for 11 years until 2012.  He is now working on radical transformatccsion for a “Square House” on the street next to  the “Swing House” located  at 1372 Avon Place, Camp Washington, Cincinnati, where I was able to peek through a window to see the interior.  I had missed the Open House the day before.  De Jong’s ideas about form, urbanism, materials and other related subjects are abstract and very original.

Both exhibits of Chris Larson and Mark de Jong’s work are on display through September 2, 2018.

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