Ordnance, Timothy Belknapʼs solo show at Rebekah Templeton, is a humorous and fun explosion of colors, textures, and forms. in this comment on the dangers in the American dream, Belknap deploys a surrealist and almost cartoonish eye to mash up the everyday benign with a suggestion of real physical harm or deformity. Some of the unexpected occurrences in this strange world include plastic skeletons coming to life, a lawn mower squirting its engine into the air, and a display of succulent fancy cakes concocted out of multi-colored ﬁreworks.
Upon entering the show you’re immediately forced to contemplate a sloppy mound of plastic human bones. This jumbled mess of bones seems purposely constructed to convey a sense of sad deformity, which I liken to the Elephant Man. The piece is hooked up to a crude array of pneumatic pumps that run through it like arteries. As you inspect it, the mangled skeleton suddenly and clumsily pops to life! But the pneumatic energy given is superﬂuous and weak, and all that really happens is that every minute or so the arm gains some strength and moves a little. Whatʼs interesting about the homely little wreck is that you quickly develop feelings for its terrible predicament. I found myself rooting for him, that he might gain enough strength to right himself and become whole again!
Then there’s the ﬁrecracker layer cake sitting on the ﬂoor. Itʼs deﬁnitely one cake you donʼt want to put candles near. Made from what looks like thousands of strands of ﬁrecrackers, the cake grows out of the ﬂoor like a monument to good old-fashioned high school mischief. I asked Ben (gallery co-owner Ben Will) if there were any plans to light the thing off, but he said he didn’t think so (Iʼd like to be present if it does go down!).
As with almost all the pieces, Big Boom-Kake gives off an orderly, formal elegance, while allowing the artist’s excellent color sense to come through. I personally love when sculptors have a good color palette; often times a nice form is cancelled out by lackluster color decisions.
Behind the dangerous cake a psychedelic lawnmower explodes in the corner. Here Belknap has painstakingly disassembled your typical push lawnmower engine and painted every component in nice, mostly high-key secondary colors. Then with monoﬁlament, he hangs the pieces from a slow-moving wheel on the ceiling. The frozen explosion pours away from the white lawnmower like iron smoke bringing to mind Damian Ortegaʼs cars and Alexander Calders mobiles. Like the sad pile of bones near the door, this lawnmower clearly has seen better days, but even as the worst case scenario explosion has occurred, the result is somehow playful and uplifting.
Standing in the midst of Belknapʼs colorful sculptures, the gallery seems to bloom with slapstick humor and surrealism. Spending time among these smart, visual jokes makes you feel like you’ve been cast into a Bugs Bunny cartoon and that any minute all hell is going to break loose. I was waiting to be offered an exploding cigar and then shot with a bang ﬂag gun!
The show runs until October 22.