Calvin Marcus: Inverting The Spectacle Of Art Viewing At K11 MUSEA

Calvin Marcus, Structure Featuring Kelly Akashi, 2016, dried noodles, pigmented wax, Ultra Gel, clear vinyl, bass wood, masonite, LED lights, AA batteries, Flashe paint, wood stain, hot glue, 61 x 64.8 x 51.6 cm. Image courtesy of the artist and C L E A R I N G New York/Brussels.
Calvin Marcus, Structure Featuring Ted Christensen, 2016, coloured plastic pill container, mirror, steel mesh, bass wood, LED lights, AA batteries, hot glue. 34 x 37.5 x 29 cm. Image courtesy of the artist and C L E A R I N G New York/Brussels.
Calvin Marcus, Structure with Brick Wall, 2016, Flashe paint and Cel-Vinyl on ceramic, Mod Podge, paper, bass wood, masonite, LED lights, AA batteries, Flashe paint, wood stain, hot glue, 155 x 61.5 x 53.3 cm. Image courtesy of the artist and C L E A R I N G New York/Brussels.
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CoBo Social Chinese Abstraction Series

On the occasion of his solo exhibition, “Structure Series” at K11 MUSEA, we spoke to Calvin Marcus about his approach to art making and the conceptual premise of his ongoing series of sculptural works, “Sculptures Series,” of which seven are on view.

TEXT: Denise Tsui
IMAGES: Courtesy of the artist and C L E A R I N G New York/Brussels

Calvin Marcus, Structure Featuring Kelly Akashi, 2016, dried noodles, pigmented wax, Ultra Gel, clear vinyl, bass wood, masonite, LED lights, AA batteries, Flashe paint, wood stain, hot glue, 61 x 64.8 x 51.6 cm. Image courtesy of the artist and C L E A R I N G New York/Brussels.

 

Walking into a darkened basement space, the room is pitch black, the only light emitting from the seven peculiar model-like sculptures on the floor. With no designated route, the artist hopes for viewers to meander through any way they feel drawn to do.

Emulating an architectural model—minus the scale aspect—each one seeks our attention to peak inside its wooden, stilted exterior, but to do so, one must crouch, squat and get low to the ground. Each piece, titled after the person’s objects of which the artist has created an imitation or representation of, speaks of a collaborative effort between artists. The only exception is Structure with Brick Wall (2016), which plays on the inversion of architectural facades.

 

Calvin Marcus, Structure Featuring Ted Christensen, 2016, coloured plastic pill container, mirror, steel mesh, bass wood, LED lights, AA batteries, hot glue. 34 x 37.5 x 29 cm. Image courtesy of the artist and C L E A R I N G New York/Brussels.
Calvin Marcus, Structure with Brick Wall, 2016, Flashe paint and Cel-Vinyl on ceramic, Mod Podge, paper, bass wood, masonite, LED lights, AA batteries, Flashe paint, wood stain, hot glue, 155 x 61.5 x 53.3 cm. Image courtesy of the artist and C L E A R I N G New York/Brussels.

 

Could you share with us your concept behind this series of works “Structure Series”?
When I first started making these works I had an ambition to exhibit in a collaborative format with artists within my community whom I admire, so I essentially made these sculptures as a way of playing with this dynamic of the exhibition venue process. The scale of the works allows me to invite as many people as I wanted to participate, which was important to me because art making can be isolating and so this was an idea to invite people into what I was making. This communal and additive approach is akin to the Surrealists making exquisite corpse drawings. I was trying to create a housing for things I wanted to shine a light onto, play with the idea of the viewing art, and invert conventions of the spectacle placed on art objects.

By putting the structures on stilts it made them these idealized art spaces and they could be these isolated sculptural forms with a flow all around and throughout them. With no entry or exit points they are meant to host the idea of a spatial viewing experience, not one based in reality. When shown with their counterparts in multiples they become their own townscape, and because they’re their own light source, they become a nocturne, a landscape or a community made of individualized units.

Your art practice is quite multifaceted, encompassing painting, drawing and sculpture in varying mediums. How does one inform the other?
I think I am more interested in image making and idea making rather than specific explorations into particular mediums. When I decide I want to make something it’s about figuring out what medium achieves it most efficiently. Of course because I have certain affinities to and interests in various media they can inform the ideas and cross-pollinations can occur. However, for the most part I believe the works inform one another even if the materials are disparate because of certain sentiments I am trying to convey that reoccur throughout the work.

A lot of your art seems to engage with the idea of artistic personas and how art is experienced. Would that be correct to say?
I think there’s a multi dimensionality to my persona as an artist. I use the idea of self portraiture in the sense of exploring a certain interiority and trying to convey this as a means to communicate ideas or emotions that I’m not always able to communicate linguistically.

Why is Structure Featuring Ted Christensen particularly different?
Because Ted Christensen is more of an architect and designer than an artist and his main contribution to the project was his architectural influence rather than the objects inside and that was his preference as far as how he wanted to participate in the collaboration.

The structures feel oddly familiar yet strangely peculiar. Is the design of the structures based on something in particular?
No, not really but I was interested in pre-fab canvas tent structures and stilted structures because of their durability against flooding and the elements. But I wanted the overall affect to feel familiar, yet abstracted.

 

About the artist:
Calvin Marcus (b. 1988, San Francisco) has been the subject of solo exhibitions at The Power Station, Dallas (2017); Peep-Hole, Milan (2015); and Public Fiction, Los Angeles (2014). He has been included in The Trick Brain, Aïshti Foundation, Beirut, Lebanon (2017); Inaugural exhibition, Syz Collection, Banque Syz, Geneva (2017); and High Anxiety: New Acquisitions, Rubell Family Collection, Miami (2016), among other group exhibitions. His work was featured in the 2019 Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and is part of the permanent of collections of the Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; K11 Kollection, Hong Kong; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and Whitney Museum of American Art. Marcus lives and works in Los Angeles.

 

Calvin Marcus: Structure Series
21 November, 2019 – 2 January, 2020
Garage Event Space, Level B2, K11 MUSEA

 

 


 

Denise Tsui is currently the Managing Editor for CoBo Social. A Hong Kong-born Aussie with an addiction to coffee, her research interests are primarily in the study of exhibition models and curatorial practices and art from the Southeast Asia Region. Previously she was an editor for ArtAsiaPacific and curator for a private collection of Australian and New Zealand art. A condensed version of her postgraduate curatorial thesis on contemporary Indonesian art was published in the Journal of Southeast Asian Studies in 2015.

 
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