Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Report from NYC: Collages at Pavel Zoubok

Michael Cooper makes finely curated assemblages out of everyday objects and scraps of packaging. He arranges the small items he finds in neat rows, grouping like colours together or following a number theme. The collage above is called - you guessed it - Four.

This is One Through Ten - look closely and you'll see that each piece of collage represents a number. It was an exhibit of Cooper's candy-colour themed collages that first turned me onto Pavel Zoubok Gallery in Chelsea, Manhattan, which specializes in collage and mixed-media assemblages.

A new exhibition of collages, “Reconstruction: The Art of Salvatore Meo,” opens tomorrow. Meo was one of the first American artists to use natural objects and discarded man-made materials.

He used the most humble of elements - scraps of wood, old toys, rusted wire and other discarded objects he found on the streets. He paved the way for artists like John Evans (below), who turns other people's garbage into intricate images that look like enlarged stamps.
A couple of years ago, Evans exhibited a breathtaking series of “daily collages” created from ephemeral bits and pieces like ticket stubs, product labels and business cards that he picked up off the sidewalks in the East Village.

From 1964 until the year 2000, Evans made a new artwork every day in a spiralbound sketchpad and recorded the date with a rubber stamp in the corner. It resulted in one of the most substantial bodies of work in the history of collage.

I wanted to snap up the whole lot when I saw them displayed together at Pavel Zoubok. Alas, I couldn’t even afford one of these precious pieces! But lucky for me they are collected in a book called John Evans: Collages, available here.

Mac Premo, another artist who shows with Pavel Zoubok Gallery, pushed the limits of his collages even further - into the three-dimensional realm. He describes himself as a collagist, animator, commercial director and carpenter. Based in Brooklyn, Premo makes quirky mixed-media objects that he classifies as "handheld art", "bookheld art" and "wallheld art". In an exhibit at Pavel Zoubok earlier this year, Robert Warner (below) evoked his rural hometown of Angelica in upstate New York in assemblages made out of vintage book covers, chandelier crystals, optical lenses and all kinds of printed ephemera.

There is something about all these collages drawing from the artist's personal life and from popular culture. They've inspired me to make my own mini-assemblage of personal keepsakes. How about you?