Josh Dorman at Mary Ryan Gallery

Josh Dorman, Crazy Traffic (2011), acrylic and antique maps on panel, 24″ x 24″; courtesy Mary Ryan Gallery

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I’ll admit it. What’s likely to set me posting on a regular basis is stuff that drives me nuts: political lightweights; navel-gazing hotties; and frat-boy avant-gardism. Anything that pimps art in the service of extra-aesthetic purpose. Nothing like high dudgeon to set a guy off, right? But this time around I’m posting because of love–love, that is, for art.

Josh Dorman’s collages–encyclopedic meditations on nature’s dizzying beneficence and humankind’s many and various foibles–have been on my radar for some time now. Over the years, the pieces have evolved from being diverting curiosities to impeccable displays of craft to a phantasmagoric cosmos given scope, breadth and life. The current show of collages, drawings and a lone animation at Mary Ryan Gallery is Dorman’s most fully articulated and assured to date. It’s a must-see, a two thumbs-up, an “if you must see one show this season . . .”–well, you get the point.

In the catalog accompanying the exhibition, novelist Nam Le writes of how Dorman “offers us . . . a shared illogic–that maunders like the mind, that honours its own eccentric questings, its pointless cataloguings, its rampant, fecund combinings.” In his response to my query–yes, I conducted the catalog interview–about what it means to be a twenty-first century artist taking inspiration from the likes of Bosch and Bruegel, Dorman responds:

“I can’t change my paintings to fit into some kind of contemporary art ‘slot’. The art I care about most is old . . . I don’t believe there’s ‘progress’ in art. A Byzantine mosaic is as glitteringly alive now as the day it was made.”

The Dorman exhibition runs until October 22nd.

© 2011 Mario Naves

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