Jack Pierson
FlashArt - N°290, may - june 2013

Jack Pierson’s exhibition Ennui, la vie continue ( Ennui,life goes on ) starts with two sets of words made of letters salvaged from diners, movie theaters, casinos, hotels, etc. These Eternal Questions – which are metaphysical, cosmic, existential, ethical, political, aesthetic - appeared in the era of ancient Greece and are still relevant because we are not able to give them a definitive answer. The other phrase, His Quiet Waters, rather than leaving us to face insoluble problems, calls on us to be guided by God. It is a direct reference to a biblical text, the 23rd Psalm: "He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters”. The word of God constitutes a set of guidelines for humanity, and Greek philosophical traditions are paths to follow in the search for the meaning of existence.
Thaddaeus Ropac gallery’s main space is invaded by the giant letters of three “simple and emotional” words: Hope, Dreams and You. A large H partly blocks the entrance, and some letters are placed horizontally, like coffins. As Jack Pierson said, "each letter has been uprooted from its original time, place, and function and recombined with others, finding new life in words that evoke loss and longing." With this giant presence he wanted to create “the effect of wandering around the Pantheon or an Egyptian temple.” These gargantuan plywood letters are like characters “acting” on a stage, the whole show is a set and its invitation card a movie poster. Jack Pierson approaches his installation from the perspective of a filmmaker capturing the performance of letters on stage telling a story of love, desire, loss, hope, or loneliness : a theatrical experience illustrating the “bigness of these words.”
On the gallery walls, four drawings of clouds, a lettering piece of a large YES and four schematized moons in their various stages of waxing and waning and then complete fullness, reproduced in blue, red, yellow and pink neon are slightly reflecting onto the silver letters. All the elements of this installation convey tenderness through the blue evanescent forms of the drawings, the symbol of the moon and the silver grey of the large wooden letters that clutter the gallery without creating a sense of danger. The show is guided by a romantic, melancholic and Camp sensibility encapsulated in the title Ennui “ which means melancholy and boredom, but more particularly something closer to killing time, waiting for the next thing to come along ”), and a “60’s glamour atmosphere” is provided by Little Ann’s song "Deep Shadows". This show is both melancholic and euphoric, and “demonstrates the disaster inherent in the search for glamour. ”

Timothée Chaillou
(Translated by William D. Massey)

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