Philadelphia based artist Tristin Lowe shares a sensibility of an important group of American artists such as Tim Hawkinson, Mike Kelley and Paul McCarthy. He deals with the abject and the vulnerable, with childhood and the visceral. His wacky sculptures and installations employ pumps, engines, valves, gizmos of all sorts to animate and amplify the essential pathos in his work. Whether replicating the intimate spaces of childhood memory; or making a clown fly, a bed urinate, or a pillow gurgle bourbon; Lowe’s sculptures and installations evoke both child-like fantasy and a sophisticated attention to the Surrealist world of dreams. The carnivalesque first impression is quickly subverted by the darker content.
Lowe’s gigantic The Chair 2004 stops us in our tracks with its enlarged scale and verisimilitude. Paradoxically, the principal product of this exaggerated scale is not dominance but vulnerability, we are dwarfed by its giganticism. His Dumbo, 2001, an inflatable elephant measuring over 18 feet, comes right out of the animation feature film from a sequence that treats drunkenness. Adult vice and childhood folklore combine to point to the danger and risk of their pairing.
Alice I and II, both 1998, are large cyclopic inflatables, that echo the one eyed heads of Philip Guston’s tragic paintings from the late seventies. They stare dumbly at each other, or, as in one installation in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Alice I faces into the modern galleries- unable not to look and equally unable to comprehend.
Lowe’s funky approach to art making runs from the inclusion of found objects to high craftsmanship. His thinking is informed by popular and underground culture. This is Lowe’s first individual exhibition in Europe.Tristin Lowe received his BFA from Massachusetts College of Art and studied at Parsons School of Design and at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. He has exhibited his work extensively in Philadelphia and nationally and internationally at New Langton Arts, San Francisco; University of California, San Diego; Hudson D. Walker Gallery, Provincetown; Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia; and the Centre d’Art Contemporain, Switzerland. In 1998 he was an Artist in Residence at the Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia and in 1994 was recipient of a Pew Fellowship in the Arts. He was co-founder and co-director of the non-profit gallery Blohard. Lowe’s work is in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art as well as other private collections.
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