Shaun O’Dell: Sound From a Rock

The Jack Hanley Gallery, San Francisco, is pleased to present Sound From a Rock, a solo exhibition of the work of San Francisco-based artist Shaun O’Dell. Shaun’s observations loosely compose inquiries about human engagement with nature and how this relationship has interacted historically with symbolic cultural production to support the construction and manifestation of power. The tombs and artifacts of history’s denials and creativities are the living source for the images produced.

Inspired by physicist David Bohm’s writings on creativity and the implicate order in nature, O’Dell uses sculpture and sound as well as more abstracted and intuitively derived drawings in this recent body of work to explore new formal and conceptual directions. The enfolded, expansive and unresolved nature of the conceptual content is matched formally in the looser, more expressive handling of materials and broadened variety of media.

In Sound From A Rock, O’Dell examines geological, cultural and ideological artifacts from the spillage of encrusted narratives that describe the creative force of high civilization as solely a construct of the West in opposition to a dark and barbaric East. Following knotted pathways, a traditional American quilt pattern called the “Star of Bethlehem” is traced back through Europe and Islam to the origin of civilization at the base of the Ziggurat at Ur. Here, the astrological matrix within the story of Matthew’s Magi, formally abstracts the planets Jupiter and Saturn and gestures to Zoroastrianism’s impact on the Persian empire and its subsequent influence on Greece, Judaism, Christianity and the historical construction of the Western mind. In a photograph from the archives of the Truman Library the hand of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh caresses the crack in the Liberty Bell during a visit to America one year before his CIA backed overthrow. A similar patina to that on the Liberty Bell is seen on the 2500-year-old limestone surface of a griffin sculpture in Lucien Herve’s photograph taken at Persepolis during a French Institute of Archeology expedition in 1962. The image appears again collaged with over-painting in the drawing Dawn Blood Of Gold, Of Yesterdays’ Dawn Gold. Two 3’ x 3’ cubes of red earth with conical shaped extrusions, physically refer to the surface, weight and density of the copper bell and limestone griffin, and the removal of the cone from the platonic cube becomes an act of reanimating its static nature.

During the opening O’Dell’s band Sword and Sandals will perform harmonic explorations based on the dualistic principles of Zoroaster.

Shaun O’Dell was born in 1968 in Beeville, TX.  His work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally, with a recent solo exhibit at Susan Inglett Gallery in New York, NY. O’Dell is the recipient of the 2005 SECA Award and Fleishhacker Award. In 2007, his work was exhibited at James Harris Gallery, Seattle, WA and Pierogi in Leipzig.

Jack Hanley

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