OPENING RECEPTION, SUNDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2015, 3 TO 6PM
SEPTEMBER 27 – NOVEMBER 20, 2015
Christian Brown Two Hands of God, 2013
Oak and copper, approximately 24 X 8 inches
SINCE PREHISTORY, humans have been impressed by skill, prowess, and by those individuals believed to have magical abilities. There was the hope that these attributes might be transferred or preserved in some way after death. It came to be believed that the essence of a person was still present in their physical remains post mortem and that essence could also be transferred to the objects associated with the person. Relics are the physical remains or the objects associated with a person who was deemed special in some way. These elevated items were treasured for the power with which they were imbued and for their ability to transfer that power to the living.
Many cultures venerate relics. Some, like the ancient Greeks, used them for incentives or inspiration. The armor of a fallen hero would be displayed to encourage heroism in living soldiers. Buddhist relics exist to show proof that enlightenment is possible. Other cultures ascribe great power to relics which is manifest though the alleged way the objects affect those who come into contact with them. The Mayans believed that to wear the skin of a jaguar gave one the attributes of the animal. The prehistoric people of Jericho, believed that to recreate the features of dead ancestors on their dry skulls was to manifest the dead back as a protectorate of the family. In many European cultures with strong Catholic beliefs, the parts of deceased individuals who were believed to be especially beloved by God were honored as tools through which the will of God could be channeled to achieve the miraculous. It is important to understand this distinction by the Catholic Church. The relics have no special power in themselves, lest there be a belief in Paganism. Instead, the relics are a way to focus the omnipotence of God and allow His power to manifest in the supplicants’ life.
M. Benjamin Herndon Scholar’s Rock, No. 1, 2014
Found carburetor; paper and wood tabletop, metal base; six photolithographs on Japanese paper inset in table. Table: 40 X 16 X 19 inches; carburetor: 6 X 8 X 6 inches
With Sanctus, Curious Matter is delving into the freighted waters of the relic and reliquary. The container for holy relics can be as simple as a rock slab pedestal, such as that which displays the bear skull at Chauvet Cave. This simple gesture sets the object apart from the world and notifies the viewer that this is something extraordinary. The container for the relic may also be elaborate and precious, designed to illustrate the glory of heaven to the faithful, as those found in countless churches. The relic can be anything that is perceived to have some special power. The object can be anything, but it needs to be venerated and it needs to have either folk proof of its magical power, or historical value to promote heroism, or patriotism in the viewer.
Lauren Jo Memento Mori: A Bone To Pick (White and Gold Incisor, Canine, and Molar sets), 2015
Found crayons, wood, foam, 3 X 4 X .5 inches
Christian Brown’s Two Hands of God, is an example of an object of worship. His ax-like sculpture recalls the ceremonial tools of the shaman to fight evil spirits and protect the tribe from the pestilence of the surrounding mortal world. Like the sécespita of ancient Rome or the athame of the modern Wiccan, it has the appearance of a ritual object whose use may be for blood letting or as a metaphor for the channeling of the energy of the thrust or cut.
M. Benjamin Herndon’sScholar’s Rock, No.1 takes an object, in this case a carburetor, and elevates it from its utilitarian purpose into an aesthetic meditation. As the Chinese scholar’s rocks that it is named after, once the object is placed in its vaunted position, it is up to the viewer through meditation on the form, to bring meaning and value to the piece. Like its oriental counterpart, Herndon has created works on paper as a paean to the object, which increase its preciousness and worth as an art object. Gilbert Hsiao’s Composition with Three Records, is another object of meditation. Here, the artist has utilized the form of the mandala as the meditative focus. The mandala is the gateway into the spiritual realm for the seeker. Hsiao has created his entrance to this realm as a circle within a circle; a tunnel to infinity. It has the additional secret potential of being a kinetic work. It can be placed on a turntable and spun to achieve a hypnotic state in the viewer.
Linda Tharp Sacré Coeur, 2015
Acrylic on wood, 9 X 5 inches
In the Metropolitan Museum of Art, there is a gilded reliquary that contains a tooth purported to be from Mary Magdalene. Whether or not this tooth is in fact from the Magdalene’s mouth can only be guessed or left for the faithful to assert. It is however a true Catholic relic of the first order in an elaborate display from the 14th century. Lauren Jo is channeling the anonymous goldsmith of the Magdalene reliquary with her Memento Mori: A Bone to Pick. Like Egaeus displaying his odontophobia in Poe’s “Berenice”, we are fascinated and yet repelled by Jo’s depiction of the teeth, which she has presented as more fitting as a curiosity, than the Metropolitan’s hallowed tooth. In this same macabre direction of human relics, are Cristin Millett and Linda Tharp. As does Lauren Jo, Millett’s Sever: Agatha’s Offering incorporates a body part, in this case, the breast. St. Agatha was an early Christian martyr of Rome, who at 15 years of age dedicated her virginity to Christ. When she refused the advances of a Roman prefect, he sent her first to a brothel, where she maintained her purity. The madam of the brothel, perceiving her uselessness for her purpose, returned her to the prefect. The prefect, incensed with Agatha’s fortitude, then imprisoned her and began a series of tortures, the most frequently referenced being the severing of her breasts with pincers. Millett depicts this act of Agatha’s travails by placing the breast and a pomegranate on a gilded tray, perhaps with Agatha’s own hands. Both items are potent symbols of the arduous journey of the spiritual.
Linda Tharp’s Sacré Coeur, brings to mind the Shroud of Turin or Veronica’s Veil as a cloth stained with holy blood. It also brings to mind Laura Keen’s dress stained with the blood of Lincoln or the pink suit of Jacqueline Kennedy, marred with the blood of John Kennedy. The red stain is powerful as an invocation of violence and death. Blood is the life force, the vital liquid that keeps us alive. The color red brings that image into focus and reminds us of its preciousness.
Sanctus brings together artists who, regardless of their creeds, venerate the object. We can look upon these works and understand their preciousness and their need to be separated from the everyday world and placed apart. In each it brings us closer to that indefinable humanness of art making.
Arthur Bruso is an interdisciplinary artist. His work incorporates, variously, three dimensional construction, installation, photography, drawing and painting. He was born in Albany, New York and holds a MFA from the University of Pennsylvania. After receiving his MFA, he moved to New York City and served as Exhibition Director for ArtGroup. His studio is currently located in Jersey City where he co-founded the exhibition venue Curious Matter. Bruso has been a teacher, curator, critic and lecturer, and exhibits widely.
Solo Exhibitions 2009 A Lesser Doxology, Curious Matter, Jersey City, NJ 2008 ÆTHER, Curious Matter, Jersey City, NJ 2007 Into the Magic Space, Curious Matter, Jersey City, NJ 2004 Association Sublimation, The Gallery-Studios, Jersey City, NJ 2000 Open Studio, The Gallery-Studios, Jersey City, NJ
Invitational Exhibitions 1999 Remembering, Responding, Renewing, Visions Gallery, Albany, NY Invitational Exhibition of Small Works, New Arts Program, Kutztown, PA 1998 Post PENNism, Meyerson Gallery, Graduate School of Fine Arts, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA Flights of Fancy, 24 Hours for Life Gallery, New York, NY
Group Exhibitions 2010 The Ecstatic, Curious Matter, Jersey City, NJ 2009 Nyktomorph, Curious Matter, Jersey City, NJ Poison, Curious Matter, Jersey City, NJ 2008 Between Worlds, Curious Matter, Jersey City, NJ Hocus Pocus, Curious Matter, Jersey City, NJ Soho Show-off, Penn Design New York Alumni Show, Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York, NY 2007 Apparition, Curious Matter, Jersey City, NJ Minnie’s Message - Steroscopic Views, The Gallery Studios, Jersey City, NJ 2002 Fine Arts Alumni/ae Virtual Exhibition 2002, www.upenn.edu, University of Pennsylvania Hallowed Ground Fertile Ground, The Gallery-Studios, Jersey City, NJ 2001 Recent Work/Sketches & Plans (The Alchemist’s Garden), The Gallery-Studios, Jersey City, NJ Photography Exhibition, Howland Cultural Center, Beacon, NY, juried 2000 Altars and Other Sacred Sites, Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center, New York, NY Universal Diversity 8 (ATE), Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center, New York, NY 1999 Universal Diversity 7: We Create, Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center, New York, NY. curated by Devorah Sperver 1999 International Juried Show, New Jersey Center for the Visual Arts, Summit, NJ; curated by Lisa Dennison, Chief Curator/Deputy Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum The Landscape, Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center, New York, NY New Works by Members, New Century Artists, New York, NY
Lectures 2005 Mystical, Jersey City Museum, Jersey City, NJ 1998 Life After Your MFA, Graduate School of Fine Arts, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 1997, 1996, 1995, 1994, Slide presentations, ArtGroup, New York, NY
"Q&A with Managers of Curious Matter, a Downtown Jersey City Art Gallery," Jersey Journal, May 14, 2010 Who’s Who in American Art, 30th edition 2009 WMBC Nightly News, New Jersey, Nyktomorph exhibition, aired 10/6/09 “Photography for the Heavens,” The Jersey City Reporter, Jersey City, NJ, 7/19/09 edition WMBC Nightly News, New Jersey, Poison, aired 4/22/09 WMBC Nightly News, New Jersey, The Line Holds, the Space Beckons, aired 2/13/09 2008 WMBC Nightly News, New Jersey, Between Worlds, aired 10/16/08 WMBC Nightly News, New Jersey, ÆTHER, aired 7/3/08 WMBC Nightly News, New Jersey, Hocus Pocus, aired 4/7/08 WMBC Nightly News, New Jersey, Work of the Penitent, aired 1/8/08 2007 “A Matter of Creativity,” Current, Jersey City, NJ, 6/21/07 edition 2005 New York Times New Jersey Edition, April 3, “Putting Down Roots in the City” Edition Who’s Who In America 2006 Edition Who’s Who in America 2004 Edition Who’s Who In America 1999 November Christians in the Visual Arts (CIVA), Minneapolis, MN 1998 December Pen In Ink; “Alumni News,” Graduate School of Fine Arts, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA September Berkshire Art Association 1998 Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture catalog; The Berkshire Art Association, Pittsfield, MA 1996 Summer Ignite magazine 1995 April “David Wojnarowitz,”ArtGroup Newsletter June Vice Magazine. February “Hugh Steers”ArtGroup Newsletter
Bibliography Bruso, A and Mingst, R. E., The Ecstatic. Jersey City, NJ: Curious Matter, 2010, exhibition catalog Bruso, A Structure of the Church. Jersey City, NJ: Curious Matter 2010, a monograph of photographic art work Bruso, A The Line Holds, the Space Beckons. Jersey City, NJ: Curious Matter, 2009 a monograph of photographic art work Bruso, A and Mingst, R. E., Nyktomorph. Jersey City, NJ: Curious Matter, 2009, exhibition catalog Bruso, A and Mingst, R. E. Poison. Jersey City, NJ: Curious Matter, exhibition catalog Bruso, A Into the Magic Space. Jersey City, NJ: Curious Matter, 2008 a monograph of photographic art work Bruso, A and Mingst, R. E. Between Worlds. Jersey City, NJ: Curious Matter, exhibition catalog Bruso, A and Mingst, R. E. Hocus Pocus. Jersey City, NJ: Curious Matter, exhibition catalog Bruso, A and Mingst, R. E. Apparition. Jersey City, NJ: Curious Matter, 2007 exhibition catalog
Research 2009 Venice, Italy to study Titian and Florence, Italy to study the wax models in La Specola 2008 Amsterdam and Haarlem, Netherlands, to study cabinets of curiosity 2007 Paris, France, to study gothic sacred space in Chartres and Notre Dame 2006 Rome, Italy to study the Garden of Monsters, Bomarzo
all images and content are copywrighted by Arthur Bruso or Curious Matter. Permission to use any images or text must be requested in writing from Arthur Bruso (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Curious Matter (email@example.com)