Jesse Chapman & Shaun Krupa

“Is Panpsychism the Engine of Art?”

July 12–August 5, 2016

Greenspon presents a two-person exhibition by artists Jesse Chapman (b. 1974) and Shaun Krupa (b. 1979). Here, Chapman’s oil paintings find a sculptural complement in the work of Krupa, who uses materials such as wood and dirt to fashion objects with an uncanny relation to the human form, and that play with the possibility of interaction. 

In artist and researcher Karl Sims’ 1994 digital animation Evolved Virtual Creatures, prototype block arrangements are sent through a simulated process of natural selection.  Mutations as random twitches and wriggles are chosen based on success in moving over a surface or capturing a target. Dead ends are deleted. Problem solving through this random, repeating massacre yields funny but effective results. As Robert Smithson notes in his 1966 essay “Entropy and the New Monuments,” “problems represent values that create the illusion of purpose.” The apparent agonized striving of Sims’ unfeeling assemblies of algo-prisms exemplify illusory meaning achieved via the introduction of an arbitrary problem. What problems would exist if we quit making them up in the quest for meaning and purpose?

With Dinosaur, Krupa levels out the metaphorical playing field between creatures and their environment, collapsing them into one entity. An enlargement of a portion of a composition made by the artist with handmade, toy-sized pieces, the structure becomes temple-like. Does the mystery of this temple reside in the contents of the nave or in the existence of a wall? He remembers his childhood environs by way of speculative architecture. The obelisk could be a monument from a distant land relocated in the gallery space. Though abstract and inanimate, it harnesses an affinity with lifeforms.

In Soil Festivities (Mound), the sifted particles of dirt find an angle of recline when they join the pile. The piece serves as an elemental bed for the artist while demonstrating the principle of entropy. 

Chapman’s figurative-feeling paintings mostly depict objects, and in turn meditate on the nature of their particular utilitarian purposes. The Fork zooms in on the phalangeal nodes of a dinner utensil. An actual fork can be considered in light of painting or any kind of representation as it both delivers something and maims it in the process.  It also suggests things that wear out as they are used, a brush or a hand for example. The things that are operated on leave their own, usually faint, impressions—an indexical record of experience, which in turn advertises and influences the nature of the mutilations that the tool inflicts as its use continues.

The attempt to get in to The Door has failed here, but the cost of the attempt to close the door is that it is now holding the forearm in place, so the door cannot be completely shut. The piece can be thought about as an illustrated object-lesson; Making statements against things is contradictory as it inevitably implies invoking that same thing in the statement one has made—the thing cannot be gotten rid of. Entities tend to pile up like laws on the books.

Both Chapman and Krupa mine the essence of their subject matter, and in turn distill abstract associative meanings generated as a result of their concentrated presence. The trajectory of history suddenly becomes ahistorical as the contextual factors that have determined something’s significance are omitted within the “neutralizing” space of formalism. Together, the artists co-inhabit the realm of allegory.