The Art of Fusion
In art world lingo, an “artist’s artist” is someone
greatly admired by his or her peers, earning
accolades from other artists that are oftentimes
followed by critical and/or commercial success.
With his innovative use of plywood, fake fur, sawdust, foam, model-scale trees, and other familiar
goods, Jared Pankin might inspire a new term: the
Photograph courtesy of Carl Berg Projects
This is not to say that the art world hasn’t also
embraced Pankin’s whimsically wild sculptures; his
three solo exhibitions in Los Angeles got the stamp
of approval from several contemporary art critics.
But it’s this combination of art and craft that make
Pankin’s chunky pseudo-naturescapes so compelling.
Pankin’s tableaux are both serious and light-hearted. Constructed from wood that is either found
or easily available at the local hardware store, his
works often resemble floating landscapes. These
reference and refute nature at the same time, as if
their maker’s knowledge of the organic stemmed
from photographs or postcards, during an era when
the natural world had been fully supplanted by the
manmade, the constructed, and the built.
But before we take this apocalyptic scenario too
seriously, Pankin — who actually lives and works in
close proximity to the majestic Sequoia National
Forest — steps in with tongue-in-cheek titles and
visual puns. Hog Wild (2008) is a big hog’s head
made from patched-together fake fur and mounted
on the wall like a hunting trophy. In Half Knot (2008),
the front of a fox is completed by a chunk of dark
wood in back, which doubles as a tail that eases
effortlessly into a tree, stretching into the air above
the animal as it teeters on a tower that seems part
Tinkertoy and part craggy mountainside.
The environment is endangered, but Pankin
isn’t waiting for it to disappear. Instead, he leaps
headfirst into a sea of imaginative re-envisioning,
creating neither replica nor homage to nature, but
a playful fusion of the organic and the manmade, of
art and craft.
—Megan Mansell Williams
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