EXCITED INNER GASES
CURATED BY JUAN PUNTES
JANUARY 9 – FEBRUARY 22, 2003
White Box presents the New York debut of works by Ohio-based artist Jeff Chiplis, the inventor of recycled neon art. White Box will go dark for the duration of the exhibition as his suspended abstract sculptures fill the subterranean space with the unearthly glow of electrified inert gases. In the long outsider tradition of the collection, alteration and re-use of materials, Chiplis reconstitutes neon into singular conceptual and pictorial works with wit and humor.
At the landmark Chelsea watering hole Chelsea Commons, Chiplis altered beer advertising signs can be enjoyed in their natural habitat in the company of bar patrons, pretzels and pints. Familiar objects to bar flies everywhere, neon beer signs at the hands of Chiplis become wry one liners. Works such as Lit , which is derived from a Miller Lite sign, are disconcertingly familiar but invite a second glance through the smoke in an attempt to unravel Chiplis many possible intended meanings. Simultaneously, a text piece will fill the window of the Red Door art space on Rivington Street on the Lower Eastside.
In conjunction with the show is a forthcoming article in Art in America by Thomas McEvilley, who previously wrote this about Chiplis: With his new method of using old things he has delved into the detritus of modern culture in a kind of archeological project. He works with the neon elements like a subversive archeologist who reconstructs an ancient vase in some shape never imagined by its original maker. His work tends toward a reconstitution of the past in a new form, both sustaining the continuity of civilization and altering it in new directions. In the last decade and a half he has expanded the creative motility of the great but creaky tradition of western art. He has shown that it is still alive and competitive, that it still has resonances waiting in corners to be divined and realized.