A slab of marble, a material associated with beauty, opulence, civilisations, tumults down a quarry, the simplicity of the gesture expressing at once a sense of suspension and a certain degree of inevitable fatality. ‘Proposal for a Defective Monument’ (2018), the new film by LA and Paris-based artist Jeremy Everett (b. 1979, USA), equally lends itself to the title of the exhibition, Everett’s first solo show in Mainland China at Edouard Malingue Gallery, Shanghai. Permeating the space is a sense of his highly charged poetics, how each work exists as the fragment of a sentence, a lyrical exposé, released into the world with precise abandon: the visual confrontation of a new world that exists within yet beyond our own. Stemming from a centre of intuition, Everett’s visual lure lies in the works’ subtle evolution beyond process and creation; neither never fully created nor complete, its significance is in its evolving state, combining beauty and presence.
With an initial degree in Landscape Architecture, Everett traversed into the art of making – or making of art – by subsequently completing an MFA at the University of Toronto. A Colorado native, Everett was exposed for the formative parts of his early years to raw space, the pulsating yet contemplative existence elicited by bare earth. Citing inspirations such as Land Art masters Robert Smithson and Michael Heizer, Everett considers places as landscapes, their constant fluctuating existence at the inspirational heart of his practice. As an initial standing point, his practice demands an experience rather than a ritualistic formalist observation: Everett’s work is direct and in its deconstructive essence rejects anything formal beyond the primitive. Face to face with you it is vulnerable in its unstable evolutionary state, and so from you does it also demand honest transparency.
The exhibition presents a series of works through which Everett explores the act and processes of painting: plays with pigment, light, surfaces, texture. In particular, a collection of paint and light-sensitive emulsion on blanket works permeate the room, harking in their varying tonalities the ad hoc veins and filaments of the marble in his film. Hanging delicately on each wall they too engulf the viewer, creating a sort of visual cocoon, a sensation that is heightened by their title series ‘Padded Painting’ and knowledge of the works’ materiality that hints to shelter. The hues, ranging from cyan blue to burnt magenta violet have an earthy variance to them as if referencing bodies of water or rocky iron oxide clifftops. Centrally-placed amidst this scene is an installation, which ultimately ties them all back to the film and exhibition title: a slab of marble rests on a piano letting out the lone drum of a single note – this sculpture, in this room, acts as a reflective hum in response to the catalytic dramatisation otherwise experienced.
In the centre of the gallery is a constructed dark room, the sounds of slow, distant and increasingly proximate collisions reverberating in the space. Upon entrance there is an immersion: the four-channel film ‘Proposal for a Defective Monument’ (2018) is projected floor to ceiling across the walls of the cube, each proposing a differing scene. The site is the marble quarries in Jeremy’s hometown. The viewer stands, surrounded, by slabs of plummeting rock, distinct for its white or blue-grey tones, a scene that unravels the monumentality of a process that in itself leads to the creation of marvels. Despite the material’s identifiability there is the sense of stepping into a place of sacrosanct living heritage site, one that is captured, in suspended movement, as if hovering in a shifted gravitational zone. The result is one of revealing rawness behind what we luxuriate while creating, whilst also being a separate universe to contemplate the simplicity of origin.
Ultimately, Everett awakens a panoply of senses, impressions, reflections – an experience akin to being where nature reigns and one recognises our minutiae. He points to how we create and how what one builds, of whatever scale, has its origins in our surroundings and this influences its continued existence. Indeed, Everett provides a view on the monumental, whether architectural treasures or the history of painting, that turns it on its core creational existence – a reflective take that can apply to wider considerations of our being.
Jeremy Everett is a highly celebrated emerging artist who has held solo exhibitions in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Paris and Hong Kong, amongst other locations. Everett recently participated in a group show at Espacio Tenerife de las Artes and has been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Everett’s practice has been extensively featured in publications and critical reviews including Centerfold Magazine, Phaidon, l’Officiel de l’Art, Muse Magazine, The New York Times, The Smithsonian Magazine, Flash Art, Modern Painters and ArtReview, amongst others.