Will Boone : Garage. David Kordansky Gallery. Los Angeles. Photos by EMS

(per website) David Kordansky Gallery is pleased to announce Garage, its first solo exhibition with Will Boone. The show will open on June 2 and will remain on view through July 7, 2018. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, June 2 from 6:00pm until 8:00pm. Garage features new paintings and sculptures installed in an environment constructed by the artist specially for the exhibition. As the show’s title suggests, the installation evokes the cave-like space of a single-car garage, complete with top-mounted door, exposed framing, and open shelving. Installed in and around the garage are Boone’s iconic mask and flag paintings, model and figurine sculptures, and other works that demonstrate the broad range and far-reaching scope of his practice.

Will Boone draws inspiration from a breadth of cultural and subcultural sources. These include movies, music (especially the ethos and ephemera of punk), industrial manufacturing, conspiracy theories, and the bar and cattle ranching iconographies of Houston and South Texas. But Boone’s is not merely an appropriation-based project designed to lay bare sociological phenomena. Rather, he uses these elements to unearth latent archetypes in the American psyche, producing pictures and objects imbued with totemic energy.

Garages, for instance, often serve the houses to which they are attached as “subconscious” spaces, depositories for excess possessions and sites where messy activities–like fixing cars or making art–take place. Boone’s take on garage architecture includes an unfinished wall constructed from studs and an elongated wooden shelving unit. (The latter is in fact a pre-existing structure left behind in his studio by a previous tenant, and therefore carries with it the charge of a past life in another context.) The space Boone creates is a permeable enclosure that exposes what it contains–a bed fashioned from a pool table; a free-standing, collage-covered red wall; and, installed on the shelves, a series of model-like sculptures of psychologically loaded places and scenes.

These sculptures exemplify Boone’s penchant for employing techniques developed outside of a fine arts context. In this case, he turns to the model-maker’s toolkit to create three-dimensional dioramas of dreams, fantasies, and anxieties. His renditions of underground spaces like tunnels and bunkers are often occupied, for instance, by figurines representing characters from horror movies, lending the works an aura of kitsch and a highly personal, even obsessive fervor. Boone’s resourceful handling of his materials allows him to produce meticulously detailed objects that still possess raw immediacy. One work depicts, in miniature, a drained backyard pool of the kind that teenaged suburban skateboarders might search out; seen from another perspective, it also resembles a grave.

Boone spent formative years in Texas designing flyers, t-shirts, and album artwork for underground bands and independent record labels. The processes of production and image selection he developed at that time have continued to shape his work. This is particularly evident in the series of mask paintings that is one of the major developments of this exhibition. Here Boone transforms a surreal array of icons from popular culture–Willie Nelson, the Texas state flag, a rattlesnake–into mask-like objects by re-imagining them with blank spots for eyes. He begins with altered photocopies of images, including photographs of actual novelty masks; these then become silkscreens used to apply paint to shaped panels. The entire process is done by hand so that it retains a connection to the irreverent and inherently democratic ethos of bootlegging. Born of the primitive psychological impulse to see faces in non-sentient objects, the paintings channel archaic power. But on material terms they also function as props whose clarity, flatness and recognizability makes them feel like signs, even if the viewer is never completely sure what they symbolize.

The floor-based bronze sculptures that punctuate Garage locate broader symbolism in seemingly minor or pedestrian forms. Searching through hobby shops and flea markets, Boone sources plastic figurines he then enlarges, casts, and paints. In some cases, he works with fragments, creating permanent monuments to things that are usually discarded. A series of sculptures of capes, shown here for the first time, are examples of this tendency: their swooping folds, separated from the superheroes and villains to which they once belonged, become three-dimensional abstractions notable for their gravitas, graphic precision, and art historical resonance.

A sculpture of a shark, meanwhile, foregrounds Boone’s use of modes of display to reanimate–and dignify–objects that tend to fade into the perceptual background. The shark itself is based on the kind of bar prop ubiquitous in fishing towns, but Boone has positioned his bronze cast on a steel bar so that it juts out of a livestock watering trough that serves as its pedestal. Rooted in both museological practice (its presentation evokes the mounting of decommissioned fighter jets) and the jarring juxtapositions of assemblage, the sculpture conjures fear, humor, and a paradoxical stillness. It functions as a reliquary for a common thing made classical by the force and focus of the artist’s piercing attention. 

Will Boone (b. 1982, Houston, Texas) has recently been the subject of solo exhibitions at Karma, New York (2017) and the Rubell Family Collection, Miami (2014). Group shows include Desert X 2017, Coachella Valley, California (2017); White Trash, Luhring Augustine, Brooklyn, New York (2017); Prototypology, Gagosian, Rome (2016); Fétiche, Venus Over Manhattan, New York (2016); In Different Ways, Almine Rech, London (2016); and Love For Three Oranges, Gladstone Gallery, Brussels (2015). Boone lives and works in Los Angeles.

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