Weekly Update – Josh Mosley and Anthony Campuzano’s words and philosophy at ICA

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This week’s Weekly has my review of Joshua Mosley and Anthony Campuzano’s shows at ICA.  Below is my copy with pictures.

Joshua Mosley‘s “dread” and Anthony Campuzano‘s “touch sensitive,” in ICA‘s upstairs galleries, are sophisticated narrative disquisitions on the world and mankind’s place in it.  The pieces are in other respects nothing alike.

Joshua Mosley "Dread" at ICA. This is Pascal.
Joshua Mosley “Dread” at ICA. This is Pascal.

“dread” is a multi-part installation with a display of five small bronze sculptural figures and a six-minute black and white computer animation.

moselyinstallation
Dread installation at ICA. That’s Mosley, sitting against the wall, watching with everyone at the opening.

The animation – projected large in a dark gallery with benches for seating — marries gorgeous landscape photographs, a lyrical soundtrack and animated figures based on clay sculptures the artist made of a dog, a cow and the philosophers Rousseau (1762) and Pascal (1669).

Dread --Pascal and Rousseau in the woods
Dread –Pascal and Rousseau in the woods

In the video, the philosophers take a walk in the woods, talk of God, and encounter death.  The piece suggests that man may write philosophy about God’s existence and nature’s goodness but that truth lies elsewhere: Nature is beautiful but ultimately unknowable and God has better things to do than take care two philosophers in the woods.

Dread--the cow. The dog, named Dread (not pictured) is based on a dog Eadward Muybridge photographed in his motion studies.
Dread–the cow. The dog, named Dread (not pictured) is based on a dog Eadward Muybridge photographed in his motion studies.

The small catalog for the show documents the film and sculptures and includes a pithy essay by historian Harvey Mitchell.

Anthony Campuzano. Self-portrait via Donald Crowhurst, 2008. ink, colored pencil on board. 40x30"
Anthony Campuzano. Self-portrait via Donald Crowhurst, 2008. ink, colored pencil on board. 40×30″

Campuzano’s word art in framed poster-sized pieces and pinned to two free-standing cork boards is based on anecdotes from news sources ranging from pop culture magazines to obituaries in local newspapers.

Everything is filtered through the artist’s wry philosophy, a combination of belief in Murphy’s law and praise of the common man who carries on.

Anthony Campuzano. detail of Various titles, Various times 1 and 2. ink on paper, pushpins, cork, wood, acrylic, hardware, enamel and steel. 72x48 1/2 x 20
Anthony Campuzano. detail of Various titles, Various times 1 and 2. ink on paper, pushpins, cork, wood, acrylic, hardware, enamel and steel. 72×48 1/2 x 20

The large and small hand-lettered works tell stories in streams of urgent-looking upper-case letters that grow bigger towards the bottom and rush down the page with no punctuation to stop them.

Campuzano uses words for their content.  He loves the obituaries for their ability to distill a life down to a few labels: “exceptional woman; historian, had green thumb; volunteer fundraiser; educator; Texas judge; Hee Haw performer, real estate agent; lawyer and activist” are a few examples from “Various Titles, Various Times #1 and #2”.

Various titles, Various times, 1 and 2. installation
Various titles, Various times, 1 and 2. installation

But the words are graphic design tools as well and many of the pieces have raking diagonals or two-column newspaper-like formats that imbue them with a modernist look.  They are highly self-referential however and highly post-post modern.   In fact they’re like hand-made blog posts waiting for comments.  (Campuzano is indeed a blogger — his ice station zebra blog is a several-times-a-week stream of music and movie clips and thought posts.)

Bucking the rising tide of skin deep art, Mosley and Campuzano tackle big questions that are as important today as ever. Both artists recently participated in a group show of drawings at the University of the Arts, and Campuzano was also featured in “Rich Text” at Fleisher/Ollman Gallery last month.

Joshua Mosley: dread and Anthony Campuzano: Touch Sensitive, to Mar. 29. ICA,  118 S. 36th St.  215 898 7108.

Tags

anthony campuzano, ica, joshua mosley

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