Daniel Arsham Character Study
Daniel Arsham’s exhibition Character Study presents new work that explores the artist’s relationship to color and light, as well as his interest in cycles and patterns as they relate to time, matter, and pop-culture.
In the first part of the exhibition, iconic cartoon characters cast from vintage patches, enlarged to a fantastical scale, appear familiar and playful as they hang throughout the gallery. Some of these appropriated pop-images, such as Bart Simpson, Bugs Bunny, and Felix the Cat, are from of the artist’s own childhood collection of patches that covered the Jansport backpack he owned during his school years in the 90s.
These oversized patch works are cast using a plaster material, however, the expected colors scheme was not used. Instead, the pieces are pure white, half painted in a chiaroscuro style. This technique uses a gradual field of color to imply a shadow across the work, bringing attention to the texture and intricate detail of the embroidery. The pigment is dusted over the surface, allowing gravity to determine where the color lands. Arsham states: “When I began delving into the use of color, my colorblindness was a factor. I compensated for my lack of understanding the universe of color by viewing my surroundings in terms of light and shadows. This color chiaroscuro technique is an exploration of that.”
In the second part of the exhibition, the concept of the angle of repose is present in an installation that consists of sand piles arranged in a Fibonacci pattern, which surrounds a sculpture of the moon. Chiaroscuro is also present here, this time as a single light source that illuminates the installation from the back wall of the gallery. The light points from a single direction, creating a similar effect as the paint on the patch pieces.
All images: Character Study, 2018. Photography courtesy of Morán Morán