Floral Expressions of Harlem
Eric N. Mack, 2017
On “Floral Expressions of Harlem” (2017) seen at “Misa Hylton-Brim Exhibition”, Simon Lee Gallery, London, 2018.
Artist: Eric N. Mack (Born 1987, Columbia, Maryland. Lives and works in NY)
“Equating the art world to the fashion industry, Mack reminds us that galleries can be just as fickle as the fashionistas in their relentless pursuit of the new and novel, (…) success in art is, as with fashion, inevitably dictated by the market.” (David Trigg in ELDERTON, MORRILL ,2019, p.164)
I came across Eric N. Mack´s work at the Simon Lee Gallery on Berkeley Street, London. I was completely struck by the movement and feelings of freedom that one piece on the window was able to communicate, probably because of an automatic identification with the references from a dialogue bewtween fashion and art, in one piece that could not be defined as a painting or sculpture or installation. The artist himself calls it a “fabric collage.”
The piece was a sort of patchwork of textile materials, fashion ads, pictures, pieces of newspapers, hanging in a way that had been sculpted from simple ropes and nails, shaping the space and the piece itself. An assemblage of materials and textures from distant sources beautifully put together. Curious and intriguing. It almost worked like a mood board.The piece´s main appeal challenges the audience, to reflect and change perspective on expected aesthetics – in the actual contemporary art world – in such a predictable show in an art gallery in Mayfair.
Mack´s works are called paintings but the artist himself criticises the idea of constraints definitions between mediums, such as, painting, sculpture, installation. Why is there the need to define mediums into rigid definitions? Why not mixing them, blurring disciplines and provoking almost discomfort in the audience since you can´t define it? Mack blurs the lines between definitions in contemporary art and explores the dialogue between art and fashion with his unique style.
It could be seen as a painting since he mixes and matches materials and objects usually on textile surfaces, he uses blankets instead of canvas for example. A sculpture for the way he manages to shape his pieces with simple nails and ropes, occupying the space in an almost demestic way, as a clothing line. Or an installation, shaping the spaces while playing with all types of material that he could find in bins.
“The variety of sources assembled in Mack’s artworks leads to the creation of a non-hierarchical system, refusing to privilege the readymade over the hand crafted, or one history over another. His paintings blur the line between utility and style, crafting an oeuvre that is absorbed in the duality of deconstruction and reconstruction.” (Simon Lee Gallery Press Release)
Mack interrogates fashion and displaces it . The fact that he dyes fabric, uses stained textiles or clothes and thorn rags, really challenges the fashion scene, since he insists in seeing beauty on waste, what usually is considered devalued, trash or ugly (passing trends). As a mixed media artist, he explores unusual possibilities on fashion references, mainly from the media , reusing these images, creating new forms.
Elderton, L., Morrill, R. (2019) Vitamin T, Threads and Textiles. Londres: Phaidon.