I’ve Done Too Much Slithering, I’m Now Claiming Skies: Derek Weisberg @ Trotter & Sholer Gallery, NYC
Following his recent solo at Swivel Gallery last month, Brooklyn based artist Derek Weisberg returns with a new presentation of works at the Lower Manhattan gallery, Trotter & Sholer. Titled I’ve Done Too Much Slithering, I’m Now Claiming Skies, the exhibition offers a seven-year exploration of themes surrounding fragmentation and reconstruction. Materiality is at the core of Weisberg’s work, which pays close attention to the scars and ruptures, as well as the repairs. Weisberg’s masks and sculptures are created from shards of earlier works that he broke in an act of creative destruction; similarly his collages are assembled from found materials and pieces of drawings resulting in unexpected compositions.
At first glance the works can be jarring, like creatures created by a modern-day Dr.Frankenstein. Rather than revulsion, however, Weisberg reacts to his inventions with sensitivity and care. He finds a tender fragility in the rough, hardened ceramic material. The bricolage process highlights the romance in the sculptures’ clefts and fractures and makes an allusion to the grotesque beauty of something broken and imperfect. The empty space in the chest of As She Appeared in My Favorite Dream II, indicates that the work is as much about what isn’t there as what is. These works make physical the kind of psychic fragmentation inherent to the human experience. By offering evidence of physical destruction, Weisberg presents a materialised vision of catharsis and metamorphosis.
Weisberg’s masks take a more minimal approach while his large-scale, free-standing sculptures present more elaborate compositions. This maximalism is carried into his collage works; Alchemy of Unexpected Meetings takes 2D elements and combines them into object/collage hybrids. In these pieces Weisberg uses found materials and his own drawings reconfiguring them into something entirely new. His commitment of sculpture is clear; each collage has weight and an explicit sense of having been constructed.
Weisberg notes that after the destruction of something it can’t be entirely returned to its former self. Like Theseus’ Ship, Weisberg plays with the idea of finality, but makes no attempt at identity or sameness; instead, fully new creations emerge, reminding the viewer that destruction is an essential part of creation.
From the Artist: Existence is a constant exercise in picking up the pieces. In moving, refreshing and discarding parts and bits of oneself to form something anew. This transformation, this reconstruction is what interests me most. Composed of elements of previous works, these figures represent past selves, fragmented histories, and stories of loss. To be fragile, and vulnerable is a uniquely human condition and something I continually investigate in my work. Through transfiguration, the remnants of my past are amended, at least in-part, giving space for healing and growth.
I’ve Done Too Much Slithering, I’m Now Claiming Skies is on view at Trotter & Sholer at 168 Suffolk Street, NYC through June 9, 2021.