Through Glass Darkly

Through Glass Darkly

Psychedelic reflections under watchful eyes

This month presents a rare opportunity to see the rarefied work of Rob Wynne. His last solo show in New York was in 2000, and since then his shows have been mostly in European venues. Wynne is likely to make almost anything. He has worked in glass, ceramic, painting of sorts, books, fabric… feather, ribbon. Though a veteran of the New York art scene and of the legendary Holly Solomon Gallery, Wynne’s work is perhaps too independently intelligent and strange even for a scene where anything goes.

The current show is an installation. Two walls of the gallery are covered in a hand-screened wallpaper, irregularly patterned in a half-tone photo of the artist’s eye, left or right. Over this are hung a series of over-scaled glass teardrops of different sizes hung at intervals. On the floor are clumps of mirror finish glass mushrooms. On the opposite wall is a poured glass text piece that reads “The Heartbeat of a Bird.” The room is not brightly lit. The wallpaper and teardrops reflect in the mushroom caps as well as on the mirrored surface of the text.

All this reflecting and fracturing has the effect of being in a strange grotto or ritual site. Wynne always comes up with a unique sort of courtly poetry concrete and the courtier always knows more than the king.

The precedent for this work is installation, a common enough commodity; it is the gentlemanly choice of materials and language that make it unusual. There is also a period piece quality that brings the early French surrealists to mind, particularly Man Ray. Wynne has also made drawings with sewn or burned texts. The texts, sometimes quite simple, sometimes complex, are drawn from the tone of extensive readings of philosophical and hypothetical sources as well as 18th century poetics, theater, and pseudo-science. Some of the phrases he has used are—“I Saw Myself See Myself”, “What I Remember Best is the Voyage There,” “An Orchid in the Land of Technology,” and “I Forgot to Continue Thinking.”

Wynne is an erudite kind of guy. The phrases usually relate to the situation and are often funny, and often quite moving. The drawings can be viewed upon request.

All told, the work reflects internalized knowledge and an elegant yet naughty sensibility. The space at Craig Starr Associates is also elegant, in the old New York way, and complements the work.