Words by Anne Tschida
In the middle of Primary Projects irregularly angled space, a giant mastodon-like creature arises from its pre-historic muck, so heavy that the platform underneath it is starting to buckle and collapse. The statue — structure, really — is menacing, but made of colorful found cloth, spray foam and, in one case on its leg, an old zipper vest. It’s called “Oh! Oh God!” And it’s one of the bizarre and fascinating pieces from Andrew Nigon at the gallery run by several members of Primary Flight, the loose conglomeration of street artists who have covered many of Wynwood’s walls.
Since it opened for last year’s Art Basel, the artwork has rarely obviously referenced mural or graffiti art — it’s been more about the essence of the urban and the street, and this show is no exception. A thread in Nigon’s work is the constant process of deterioration: materials deteriorate, as do living things, almost from their inception. The mastodon has been resurrected here with all types of crazy body parts, but in reality, the species has been extinct for millions of years.
Nigon has several hanging balloon sculptures that swing and cast nice shadows on the walls. The balloons have been filled with foam spray sealant, but some of the gas escaped during the process, so the balloons —pink, blue, yellow — are in various processes of deflation. It feels like the day after the celebration.
An elk head the artist found in his new studio (left behind by a previous occupant) is mounted on one wall, with horns hung with outrageously colorful plastic stringers, one eye-socket filled with a balloon, one ear made from a bright green cast of the artist’s own hand. Balloons, streamers, psychedelic colors are all supposed to connote happiness, the endless party. But as the artist states, this is meant to draw attention to “the bizarre nature of our existence in which we have an insatiable drive to improve while simultaneously living within bodies that are in constant decay.”
This theme is most obvious in a disturbing totem sculpture, called “Disciples of a New Faith.” Men, again made from all sorts of colored cloth and materials with cast masks as faces, are stacked on top of each other, in a nod to the progression of birth till death, boy to man to elder. During the process of making the installation, the figure on the bottom literally started to get crushed, his head sinking to his knees; the party is almost over for him.