The gallery is honored to present the first New York solo show by Norm Paris, “The Wall Still Stands.”
Paris’ work explores the unfixed relationship between an evolving group of icons, their shifting mythologies, and the languages used to represent them. In recent drawings and sculptures, old paintings and sports clippings are hijacked and used as blueprints for a haphazard building project. People are substituted with building material, and “green” technology is improperly installed. Structures of questionable integrity struggle to find their place in the landscape.
Human form, and maybe even human aspiration, is folded into an architectural idea. Figures are envisioned as immovable objects; this phenomenon also occurs within the spectacle of the stadium and within a larger forum of cultural myth. Men are represented as if they had existed forever, as almost geological formations, but as with the life of these specimens there is a shift in their character over time.
Buildings and stones can last longer than a human lifespan, especially when these objects exist only as conceptual or narrative ideas. But this type of symbolic model becomes dislocated from its original meaning as its architects forget the old monuments that they constructed.
Paris’ work is influenced as much by the arena of contemporary sports as it is by academic sculpture, renaissance painting, or the industrial landscape. The intermingling of these worlds creates a sort of visual Frankenstein; old stories rendered in bygone languages are retrofitted with recent identities and newer forms. This is an unsteady representation, shifting between figure, architecture, model and specimen. Historical narratives are reanimated but are not the same as they once were; a sense of entropy permeates heroic structures.
Sportswriter Henry Grantland Rice celebrated the 1936 Fordham Rams football team by coining them “The Fordham Wall” and he in turn called the members of their offensive line “The Seven Blocks of Granite”. The seven men that became the Fordham Wall aged and died, but the “Wall” itself was left behind.
“Once Carthage Ruled an ancient coast, but where is Carthage now?
The Grecian Phalanx no more wears the winning olive bough,
And where are Persia’s ruling hosts, that ruled all warring lands?
Their day is done, by sand and sun, but the Fordham wall still stands.”
Old Gibraltar, Henry Grantland Rice
Norm Paris lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He has exhibited nationally, most recently participating in exhibitions at The Jewish Museum, San Francisco, CA, and The Jewish Museum, New York, NY, The Print Center, Philadelphia, Pa., and the Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC. His work is also included in numerous collections including The Jewish Museum, New York, NY and the West Collection, Oaks, PA. Norm is an Assistant Professor at Rhode Island School of Design and core faculty at the Yale Norfolk Summer School of Art in Norfolk, CT. He received his B.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design and his M.F.A. in painting and printmaking from the Yale School of Art.
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The Wall Still Stands
September 16 - October 23, 2011