Artist: Colby Bird
Venue: Halsey McKay, East Hampton
Exhibition Title: Unavoidable Blemishes
Date: January 18 – April 10, 2020
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Full gallery of images, press release and link available after the jump.
Images courtesy of Halsey McKay, East Hampton
Halsey McKay Gallery is excited to present Unavoidable Blemishes, Colby Bird’s 5th solo project with the gallery. The show marks 4 years of isolated art production by Bird, who has spent the last 5 years in the town of Coxsackie, New York. Since relocating upstate, Bird has worked in a third floor attic, an abandoned firehouse, a storage warehouse for the Twelve Tribes Community, and currently, in a recently-shuttered diner. Each location has provided inspiration; thematically via its history as well as physically through the raw materials left behind by previous owners and operations. The blue collar and commercial nature of each location further informs Bird’s art making that already skews toward valuing labor and material history.
The show’s title is taken from a Salvador Dali quote in his biography The Secret Life of Salvador Dali:
“My mother’s death supervened, and this was the greatest blow I had experienced in my life. I worshipped her…
I could not resign myself to the loss of a being on whom I counted to make invisible the unavoidable blemishes of my soul.”
Death, as well as other unavoidable and often ineffable forces such as age, gravity, entropy, and beauty are at the forefront of Bird’s mind and art. He reshapes these weighty themes into sculptures that exude joy and curiosity.
Works like Everyone is Always Late exhibit the dueling themes present in this body of work. At first blush, the formal playfulness and basic color palette reminiscent of vintage circus colors, imbue the works with a joyful innocence. Upon deeper examination and interaction, it becomes clear that this initial reading belies a darker side. The slowly decaying lemons trigger a hair-dryer hidden within the wood pyramid–blowing faster and faster on a candle, hastening its death. When a small exterior knob is wound and released, a slow, elegiac version of Strauss’ waltz, The Blue Danube, plays from a concealed music-box, providing a plaintive soundtrack.
Visitors to this exhibition are encouraged to activate each work under the supervision of the gallery attendant. Alternatively, visitors can request and view a short video of the artist activating each work.
Colby Bird (born 1978; Austin, Texas) received his MFA from Rhode Island School of Design in 2004. He has had recent solo exhibitions at Halsey McKay Gallery, New York and East Hampton, NY; Grice Bench, Los Angeles, CA; Fitzroy, New York, NY; Lora Reynolds Gallery, Austin, TX; University Galleries at Texas State University, San Marcos,TX and has been included in exhibitions at Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, CO; Arthouse, Austin, TX and Hagedorn Foundation, Atlanta, GA. His work is held in prominent private and public collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art. Bird currently lives and works in Coxsackie, New York. He represented by Halsey McKay Gallery and Lora Reynolds Gallery.
Link: Colby Bird at Halsey McKay