“Our show, titled 2011, uses the tableau of a grotto to explore the odyssey and definition of humankind. This grotto was conceptualized with an eye to the longstanding relationship of humankind to caves and the millennia of slow processes that created them even before modern man started his own development towards the present. Grottos are different than caves, though they allude to them. A grotto is a mix of the sacred and the profane – by definition it is artificial to some degree, a man-made enclosure representing the inner world of humankind and intended to mimic an idealized and mythologized underworld. They are spaces meant for relaxation, contemplation, mythology, and sometimes worship. We interpret what our senses perceive, like fire-cast flickering images on cave walls (Plato’s Allegory of the Cave), and use those perceptions to try to locate our place in the larger world. By it’s artificial nature the grotto hints at the limitations of our own human perceptions to perceive infinity and objective reality, while simultaneously paying homage to the attempt to do.
In the center of the gallery lies Andy Diaz Hope’s Infinite Mortal – a large militaristic asteroid that has crashed to earth (or is hurtling away from it, depending on your place in time) bringing with it the illusion of encapsulating the infinite within its matte-black shell. In an alcove towards the back of the gallery is a large collaborative piece, The Reflection Engine, which takes the form of an elaborately carved walnut wardrobe, the inside of which is mirrored like a crystal geode in which you can sit, door closed, and surround yourself with self-reflections in an ever expanding infinity. The Allegory of the Infinite Mortal, also a collaborative piece, is a woven jacquard tapestry depicting the intellectual structures humankind uses to try to understand the infinite. Laurel Roth’s pair of battling peacocks, titled Beauty and assembled out of fake fingernails, barrettes, and costume jewelry, encourage examination of rules of attraction and competition as part of mating and natural selection.

In a facetted gallery cavern hang multifaceted white and mirror sculptures of both futuristic and primitive aesthetics from Diaz Hope’s Infinite Mortal series, reflecting infinite loops of light and video in sculptures based on geological formations. Juxtaposed among these crystal formations, Roth’s carved wood and cast brass primate skulls highlight the evolutionary changes that brought about the numinous transformation into modern humankind. Carved wooden skulls and bones of animals that evolved alongside of us, first hunted and then eventually domesticated, bred, and controlled by humans for use as food are displayed near these offshoots of our own evolutionary path.
All of the work is intended to question what it means to be human on this evolutionary path through time.”
“Initially the double exposure effect was a direct image of what I experienced, but as I explored the theme more I began to discover a multitude of transcendental issues within the work. Most importantly the passage of time and thought, the eternal and durable, sustainability versus impermanence; these images very much serve as a metaphor for my relationships. Things that are usually, but don’t necessarily have to be, mutually exclusive.

These paintings are already visually confusing and I think that the only honest and clear way to paint them is photorealism. Coming from a mathematics background, I’m most familiar with having a final product known and plugging my variables in to create an equation that is coherent.”

Gallery Hijinks is proud to present Alchemist, an exhibition of paintings and manipulated portraiture by Oakland based artist, Scott Greenwalt. This most recent collection of works showcases figurative and literal exploration of the unseen moments of transmutation. Please join us for the opening reception on November 12th, 2011, from 6-10pm.

Alchemist depicts the abstracted nature of change, a metamorphosis, seemingly slowed down, broken apart, and frozen in the exact moment before everything unifies to resemble something familiar. Greenwalt’s grotesque paintings draw upon theories similar to the medieval sciences of alchemy, which attempt to realize the concepts of constant transformation, decay, and mutation of all elements that encompass life.

Grounded in traditional formats of landscape and portraiture, the artist creates large-scale acrylic paintings on canvas and wood panel. The dark rich color fields in which Greenwalt’s portraits exist serve to eliminate the context from which they manifested, as if floating within a void. Red drapery hangs from the unrecognizable forms, obscuring their unknown physical state. Vast landscapes are swarmed by alchemical and supernatural phenomenon. Coinciding with the paintings, the artist experiments with prints of iconic portraiture, using viscous semi-transparent adhesives to distort and disguise the human face beyond recognition.

Inspired by the great works of Francis Bacon, Hieronymus Bosch, and Chuck Close the artist professes “I am faced with the challenge of abstracting something that didn’t exist yet. Ratherthan breaking down the existing image into abstract units, I am trying to herd disparate abstract units into an understandable, yet alien image.” Growing up watching 1980’s sci-fi and horror films was an obvious influence on the artist’s overall aesthetic, citing the work done by special effects make-up artist Rob Bottin on John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’ as the single greatest influence on Greenwalt’s perspective.

Missouri born Greenwalt has exhibited steadily since 1997, after completing his first degree from Central Missouri, then moving to California to acquire his Masters from CCA. He currently resides in Oakland, California.

Alchemist, by Scott Greenwalt opens November 12th and runs through December 17th, 2011. This event is open to the public.