As part of its 25th anniversary weekend, Chinati will host an opening and reception for Artist in Residence Justin Almquist on Saturday, October 8 from 6 to 10 PM at the Locker Plant on East Oak Street. Marfa bands Solid Waste and Foundation for Jammable Resources will perform during the reception.
Almquist’s exhibition, entitled You don’t have to scratch me to get meat, addresses serious social issues such as nudity, alcoholism, and social deviance in the arachnid population; sensitive viewers may wish to exercise discretion with regards to which materials they unwittingly subject their loved ones to.
The show is comprised of hats, drawings, and new reliefs. Almquist is a prolific drawer, and his output is prodigiously varied, witty, and vile. He is inspired by a lot of things-incidents and anecdotes from his life, other art, images in newspapers and magazines, marks of his own or others’ making, and lately bugs. Bugs and the like feature prominently in two new series on display at the Locker Plant, each featuring twenty drawings mounted five to a row in a rectangle. Benthic Processes depicts the checkered careers of aquatic organisms at the low end of the food chain. (“Benthic” refers to the bottom of a sea or lake). Basic life processes are queasily evoked-ingestion, secretion, mutation, metastasis-with a color scheme that suggests core bodily substances such as bile, ichor, urine, and phlegm.
20 Solifugae Situations is a kind of arachnid picaresque. Solifugae are better known as camel spiders or wind scorpions. In Almquist’s series of drawings, the Solifugae venture out into our world with various hapless results. They menace naked ladies, race dragsters, are laid low by toilets or drink. The serial nature of the drawings allows the artist to explore another process of permutation. This is one of the things he’s up to throughout his work: take a form, deform or reform it. The morphing technique addresses a morphing subject matter-which is, au fond, morphing matter itself.
Besides the serial works, many of the artist’s stand-alone drawings will also be on view. Almquist’s sheer love of drawing can perhaps best (if counterintuitively) be suggested by the range of his titles, which are almost always perversely exact: The devil in prison, Death from above, Baroque Lung Infection, FAMOUS TURD, The enraged testicles of John Wilkes Booth.
Almquist has also been making hats of late, inspired by Mexican calaveras and fashioned mostly from old Big Bend Sentinels. The hats sport generous brims and handmade skulls up top. No two are alike.
Also coming off the wall will be new as yet untitled works. Like the hats and the serial drawings, these represent a new venture for the artist. Made from paper mache, spray glue, and pigment, these sculptural reliefs consist of simple overlaid or intertwined forms. They look not so much biomorphic as calligraphic, as though Almquist’s gestural scrawls had assumed three dimensions. They are dumb-seeming, a bit dim, but the glittery glued-on pigment tarts them up some. As in much of Almquist’s work, lumpen matter is here seen stepping up and stepping out.
Justin Almquist is a native Texan who has lived and worked in Munich for the past eight years. He has a BFA from Pratt Institute in New York and the equivalent of a MFA from the Munich Academy of Fine Arts. A book of his drawings was published by Norwood Fine Arts in 2009 and he has shown recent work at the Munich’s Kunstverein and the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau. Public collections include the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen/Pinakothek der Moderne; Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, and Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau, all Munich.
Chinati’s educational and public programming is supported with generous grants from the Texas Commission on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Brown Foundation, the Cowles Charitable Trust, the George and Mary Josephine Hamman Foundation, the Hearst Foundations, the Carl B. & Florence E. King Foundation, the Permian Basin Area Foundation, the Warren Skaaren Trust, the Susan Vaughan Foundation, and the City of Marfa.