November 13 - January 14, 2021
Opening Saturday, November 13th, 4-8pm
Spencer Brownstone Gallery is pleased to present Sun Smoke, our second solo exhibition with Tulsa based artist Shane Darwent. The exhibition features new iterations of Darwent’s monolithic awning compositions in both assembled and disassembled states.
An array of black forms and light drift throughout the space. Standing, bending, and mingling, these human-scale silhouettes, titled Nocturnes, take their shape from storefront awnings isolated from their intended state. Nocturne (Wedge) is over nine feet tall and stands with the assistance of a concrete wedge, like an abstracted restoration of Greco-Roman statuary. Nocturne (Sandstone) barely hovers above the ground, with its twelve-hundred pound mount casting a stark contrast to its feather-lightness. Nocturne (Prism) incorporates the corner wall on which it is installed to draw a triangle in light. And Nocturne (Assembled) in the courtyard combines three unique awning forms to create a freestanding mobius. The displacement of Darwent’s awnings from a doorway, seemingly precarious stances, and playful placement together make them appear lost and floating in space like celestial bodies.
The title of the exhibition comes from the observed appearance of smoke radiating from an eclipsed sun. As the Nocturnes emit and conceal their own light, they play the part of both the moon and eclipsed sun. The optic effect of something being back-lit is utter flattening of the subject. Like an antumbra, the Nocturnes’s stretched surfaces shroud everything behind it, casting a halo around each form and negating the forms’ volume into impossibly flat shapes. The black of the unmarked vinyl surfaces also absorb and reflect light depending on their angle, bestowing movement to these monumental static forms as one navigates around them.
Despite their depth, the black of the vinyl is not intended as a black of permanence. Awning vinyls are engineered to be wiped away by applying solvents to predetermined designs and text, as one would expect to see on a storefront facade. Darwent’s awnings are stripped of their commercial function, denying the viewer of the illuminated content and emphasizing their impressive formal qualities.
Ubiquitous to the American commercial landscape, storefront awnings hover like marquees at the threshold between here and there. They run parallel to our roadways and orient us to the offerings of our surroundings. They mark a passage from the exterior to interior, from one’s private space in the outside world to the shared and intimate space of the indoors. They exhibit entropy, with every scratch and erosion recorded onto their surface. And like the ever fluctuating economic landscape from which these works take their cue, the sculptures may be reconfigured endlessly, telling new stories in new spaces to reflect the ever changing present.
With roots in the visual vernacular of renowned Minimalists like Charlotte Posenenske, Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, and Robert Irwin, Shane Darwent’s Nocturnes are not a representation of a thing but an extraction of the real thing from an everyday context, highlighting all of their beauty and flaws.
Shane Darwent (b. 1983, Austin, TX) is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice mines the commercial vernacular that lines American roadways to inform experimental photographic works, large-scale sculpture, and site-responsive installations. Within a landscape designed to overwhelm, Darwent’s practice seeks out a redacted formalism in order to meditate on the transitional nature of these spaces and the shape-shifting economic constructs of which they are a part. Exhibiting internationally, Darwent has been an artist-in-residence at Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Ragdale, the Ucross Foundation and the Jentel Artist Residency Program, as well as a Core Fellow at Penland School of Crafts. He holds an MFA from the University of Michigan (2017) and a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art (2005). Darwent’s work is included in the recent publication, 100 Sculptors of Tomorrow, by Thames & Hudson (2019). Recent exhibitions include This Will Get Us Somewhere, Maple St. Constructs, Omaha, NE (2021); Plaza Park, Boise State University (2019); Flat End Dome, Spencer Brownstone, New York City (2018); and Suburban Psalm, Spring Break Art Show, NYC (2018). He is currently an artist-in-residence at the Tulsa Artist Fellowship in Tulsa, Oklahoma.