MEL CHIN

More Greatest Hits

February 11 – April 12, 2014

MEL CHIN

Cabinet of Craving, 2011

white oak, antique English boneware (circa 1843), footed silver tray, steel, pigment dye, shellac

108 x 168 x 168 inches

 

The spider’s improbable stomach contents are the key to Chin’s purpose. Visible through the glass belly of the beast is a Victorian tea set sitting on a silver tray. The allusion is to the exploitative opium trade that Great Britain inflicted on China in the 19th century.  The trade grew out of Britain’s craving for tea and China’s demand for silver. The British wanted China’s tea but didn’t want to pay for it with hard currency. So British ships picked up opium in India and smuggled it to China, where they inverted the economic situation. Chin’s piece begins in a comment on this historical episode, which led to the Opium Wars, then broadens into a meditation on the monstrous nature of consumption, addiction, and exploitative relations between peoples and nations.

MEL CHIN

Cabinet of Craving [detail], 2011

white oak, antique English boneware (circa 1843), footed silver tray, steel, pigment dye, shellac

108 x 168 x 168 inches

 

The spider’s improbable stomach contents are the key to Chin’s purpose. Visible through the glass belly of the beast is a Victorian tea set sitting on a silver tray. The allusion is to the exploitative opium trade that Great Britain inflicted on China in the 19th century.  The trade grew out of Britain’s craving for tea and China’s demand for silver. The British wanted China’s tea but didn’t want to pay for it with hard currency. So British ships picked up opium in India and smuggled it to China, where they inverted the economic situation. Chin’s piece begins in a comment on this historical episode, which led to the Opium Wars, then broadens into a meditation on the monstrous nature of consumption, addiction, and exploitative relations between peoples and nations.

MEL CHIN

Cabinet of Craving [detail], 2011

white oak, antique English boneware (circa 1843), footed silver tray, steel, pigment dye, shellac

108 x 168 x 168 inches

 

The spider’s improbable stomach contents are the key to Chin’s purpose. Visible through the glass belly of the beast is a Victorian tea set sitting on a silver tray. The allusion is to the exploitative opium trade that Great Britain inflicted on China in the 19th century.  The trade grew out of Britain’s craving for tea and China’s demand for silver. The British wanted China’s tea but didn’t want to pay for it with hard currency. So British ships picked up opium in India and smuggled it to China, where they inverted the economic situation. Chin’s piece begins in a comment on this historical episode, which led to the Opium Wars, then broadens into a meditation on the monstrous nature of consumption, addiction, and exploitative relations between peoples and nations.

MEL CHIN

Cross for the Unforgiven, 2012

eight, cut and welded AK-47 assault rifles

59 x 59 x 1.5 inches

 

A Maltese cross of the Crusades, made from eight AK-47s, the international symbol of resistance to the West.

 

From Marcia Brennan’s article in ::: Harithas, James and Marica Brennan, Paul Farmer, James Metcalf, Eugenie Tsai and Mel Chin. Do Not Ask Me. Houston: Station Museum of Contemporary Art, 2011.

 

“Drawing on these themes, Mel’s sculpture Cross for the Unforgiven (2002) is composed of eight welded AK-47 assault rifles, instruments of formidable destructive power. With a capacity to fire six hundred rounds of ammunition per minute, the “AK” (or Automatic Kalashnikov) remains one of the most widely used automatic weapons in the world today, just as it stands as a symbol of international resistance to Western power. Yet for viewers who are unaccustomed to the collective display of such armament, confronting this sculpture can feel like a jarring visual and psychic assault, a tear in the field of one’s consciousness accompanied by a shudder of violence that ripples viscerally through the body. After a moment, however, the initial impact of these arresting sensations becomes counterbalanced by the pervasive sense of transcendence and symmetry that the sculpture seems to project. With the individual rifles arranged in a cruciform composition, Cross for the Unforgiven reminds the viewer that the crucifix is a highly ambivalent symbol, at once the sign of a blessing and an instrument of execution. Through its implicit sense of rotational symmetry, the sculpture suggests the possibility of a deadly turning movement, and one can almost imagine a frozen roulette wheel or spiral of death that has been temporarily locked in place. Yet the work also displays a twist on conventional Christian iconography. The AK-47s are arranged in the shape of a Celtic cross, with a halo-like circle spanning the cross’s lateral points of convergence. Yet the sculpture’s pointed arms also evoke a Maltese cross, with its corresponding associations of Christian warriors battling the Muslim Empire during the Crusades. Paradoxically, Cross for the Unforgiven instantiates a collision between these symbolic events and world views, just as it intertwines the brutal violence of ritual sacrifice with the sacred promise of redemption in a field where no absolution can be possible. Creation and destruction thus become welded together in the shared body of the sculpture, where they meet to return one another’s gaze so that one may shed light on the other.”

 

MEL CHIN

Temple of the New Gods (Branch), 2011

steel, polypropylene rope, backetball nets, basketballs, paints

dimensions variable

MEL CHIN

Impotent Victory, 1994

natural and manmade materials, rubber, leather, dye, basketball hoop (modified high-top sneakers)

7 x 8.5 x 13.5 inches

 

Nike Air Jordans are sculpturally mutated to make commentary on the hollowness of Nike’s economic victory over inner city youth and Asian workers.

MEL CHIN

QWERTY Courbet, 2001

steel, computer keys, monitor, CPU, gilded wood, software, red velvet

keyboard - 38 x 3 x 38 inches 

monitor/curtain - 20 x 20 inches

 

Vision of a wall in a white room imbedded with an unusual keyboard arrangement was discovered in a dream based on Courbet’s L'Origine du Monde. The piece is realized as a functional keyboard attached to a glowing computer monitor veiled with a red velvet curtain.

MEL CHIN

QWERTY Courbet, 2001

steel, computer keys, monitor, CPU, gilded wood, software, red velvet

keyboard - 38 x 3 x 38 inches 

monitor/curtain - 20 x 20 inches

 

Vision of a wall in a white room imbedded with an unusual keyboard arrangement was discovered in a dream based on Courbet’s L'Origine du Monde. The piece is realized as a functional keyboard attached to a glowing computer monitor veiled with a red velvet curtain.

MEL CHIN

Elementary Object (For Corsica), 1993

Corsican briarwood, steel, plastic, concrete/vermiculite, excelsior packing material, flannel, paper tag, fuse cord, triple F blasting powder

3.5 x 12.5 x 10.25 inches

Edition of 13

MEL CHIN

Unauthorized Collaboration: The Remorseful Physician

GFK 1942/ MEL CHIN 2012

oil on canvas, various support materials, PVA, wood, pigment

30.5 x 24.5 inches

PRESS RELEASE ::: MEL CHIN --- 'More Greatest Hits'

JONATHAN FERRARA GALLERY is proud to announce More Greatest Hits, a multi-media exhibition featuring works by artist MEL CHIN. More Greatest Hits will be on view from February 12th through April 12th, 2014, with opening receptions on Thursday, February 13th, 5-7pm and Saturday April 5th, 6-9pm.

 

In advance of the major Mel Chin retrospective exhibition, Rematch, at the New Orleans Museum of Art, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery presents a rich selection of over twenty works by Mel Chin including works on paper, small sculptures, and a recent major work, the Cabinet of Craving. All works reflect the diversity of Chin’s concerns: current events, power and politics, cross-cultural aesthetics, complex ideas, all made with exquisite craftsmanship in service to concept.  Drawings reflect multiple themes, from the destruction of culture in an ancient society to enigmatic pairings of cultural motifs.  Skillful, sophisticated renderings of unexpected images are mysterious, magnetic, and moving. 

Since it’s hard to reveal all the selections for the retrospective, I can offer some additional hits to convey the shapes of things to come. - Mel Chin

Among the works in the gallery are: Cross for the Unforgiven, a conflation of powerful representative iconographies.  Eight AK-47s come together in a new arrangement of creation and destruction projecting both belief and violence at once, and yet open to individual interpretation.  Imperfect Pearls in the Ether of Infinite Labor, a combination woodcut and lithograph, is a gorgeous abstract homage to collective aesthetic effort.  QWERTY Courbet, an imbedded wall sculpture, comes from a dream and evokes the master artist Gustav Courbet’s L'Origine du monde. Contemporary use of, and obsession with, the internet and an historical origin of the male gaze are reflected in the active keyboard and computer screen. Also expect rare, esoteric, stand-alone works derived from source material executed during Chin’s research and development of installations and projects.

MEL CHIN was born in Houston, Texas and began making art at an early age. He is known for the broad range of approaches in his art, including works that require multi-disciplinary, collaborative teamwork and works that conjoin cross-cultural aesthetics with complex ideas.  He developed Revival Field (1989-ongoing), a project that pioneered the field of "green remediation," the use of plants to remove toxic, heavy metals from the soil.  A current project, Fundred Dollar Bill/Operation Paydirt, focuses on national prevention of childhood lead-poisoning.  Mel is also well known for his iconic sculptures, works that often address the importance of memory and collective identity, and for inserting art into unlikely places, including destroyed homes, toxic landfills, and even popular television, investigating how art can provoke greater social awareness and responsibility.  His work is exhibited extensively in the U.S. and abroad and was documented in the popular PBS program, Art 21: Art of the 21st Century.  His proposal for a New World Trade Center was part of the American representation at the 2002 Venice Biennale of Architecture.  Mel is the recipient of numerous national and international awards, including four honorary doctorates. A monograph of the installation, The Funk & Wag from A to Z, is being published by the Menil Collection and distributed by Yale University press in 2014, and a traveling retrospective exhibition of his work, titled Rematch, will open at the New Orleans Museum of Art in February, 2014.

Chin has been exhibited nationally and internationally in institutions such as: Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Whitney Museum of American Art, Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Menil Collection, Smithsonian Museum, Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston), The Queens Museum of Art, Bronx Museum of Arts, Asheville Arts Museum, Royal Ontario Museum, Denver Museum of Art, Portland Museum of Art, Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art, Asheville Arts Museum, Museum of Fine Arts (Houston) and Mint Museum of Art. He has been commissioned for public projects and installations for: MoMA P.S.1, The New York Times Magazine, Central Park Arts Commission, Bryant Park, Corcoran College of Art and Design, and Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. Chin’s work awarded numerous honors, including: National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, Pollock/ Krasner Foundation Fellowship, Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant, Rockefeller Foundation Grant, Joan Mitchell Foundation Award, Creative Capital Grant, and an Honorary Doctorate - Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).

Chin’s work has been reviewed in numerous publications including Artforum, Art in America, ARTnews, Art Papers, New York Times, Times Magazine, Village Voice, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Sculpture Magazine, Scientific American, Newsweek, San Francisco Chronicle American Art: A Cultural History, Arts Magazine, The Houston Chronicle, The Times Picayune. His work appears in many public collections including MoMA, Whitney Museum of American Art, Walker Art Center, High Museum of Art, The Menil Collection, New York Public Library, The Federal Reserve, Museum of Fine Art (Houston), El Paso Museum of Art, Columbus Museum of Art and Birmingham Museum.

Mel Chin live and works in Asheville, North Carolina.