• Sasha Meret’s Plastic Menagerie

    Date posted: March 9, 2012 Author: jolanta

    Upon entering OK Harris Works of Art’s this winter, the viewer was confronted with strange, large shiny objects that resemble birds, reptiles, mammals, and even a giant egg ready to hatch, all of mysterious origin. A closer examination revealed that they are made of plastic cutlery. Sasha Meret’s recent works are sculptural constructions of polystyrene spoons, forks, and knives by the hundreds; some are white, some shiny, dark, and almost metallic, often with whimsical layering. These forms grow into otherworldly half-animal, half-bird, alien, reptile predators; yet at the same time they are reduced to docile museum artifacts through the artistic process.

    “Meret’s recent works are sculptural constructions of polystyrene spoons, forks, and knives by the hundreds; some are white, some shiny, dark, and almost metallic, often with whimsical layering.”

     


    Sasha Meret’s Plastic Menagerie

    Valery Oisteanu

    Upon entering OK Harris Works of Art’s this winter, the viewer was confronted with strange, large shiny objects that resemble birds, reptiles, mammals, and even a giant egg ready to hatch, all of mysterious origin. A closer examination revealed that they are made of plastic cutlery. Sasha Meret’s recent works are sculptural constructions of polystyrene spoons, forks, and knives by the hundreds; some are white, some shiny, dark, and almost metallic, often with whimsical layering. These forms grow into otherworldly half-animal, half-bird, alien, reptile predators; yet at the same time they are reduced to docile museum artifacts through the artistic process.

    “The Plastic Menagerie” is the title of this assembly, a bit cold and majestic, but not menacing or malefic. Indeed, the pieces here are often rather calm, sculptural, and decorative. For example, Nest Creature (2011) is created exclusively from polystyrene knives to form a giant animal-plant—a visitor from another planet that has just blossomed. Celestial Gramophorm (2011), at nearly five feet, is a part-animal, part-vintage gramophone, quiet but imposing through its sheer scale.

    In Wing (2009), the wing from a white plastic angel has been “saved” and placed on an altar that seems to be levitating while surrounded by strange creatures with wings and tails that shine and reflect in multiple reflections, like a disco ball. In Ovus (2009) and Dragon (2011), a giant white egg scalloped from layered spoons sits on a pedestal guarded by a dark and ever-vigilant mama dragon. Another sculpture, Falleus (2010) is a white biomorphic accumulation of forks and spoons that looks like a menacing penis with quills coming out of its head.

    Although some may see these artworks as so much kitsch, or perhaps fringes of neo-surrealism, others may see them as modular constructions or nightmare visions. With a note of self-deprecation, Meret has a healthy attitude about his art, which he says is assembled from the “ready-mades of a consumerist society.”

    These works reveal a obsessive-compulsive but vivid imagination. In Binary Quetzalcoatl (2010), the artist takes the hard cover of a book and starts dressing it with plastic forks, sculpting them together, layer upon layer. As the covering seems to expand out of control, it becomes something unexpected, rife with what Meret calls “non-deliberate totems of personal divination.”

    The newest additions to this alien zoo are Nest Creature (2011), a bizarre, nest-like animal constructed exclusively from knives, and a giant snake, Almost Cobra (2011), a phantasmagoric snake-like creature. Meret calls them “non-verbal figurations, created through a meditative process” that “intuitively provoke a surge in emotion that is the nearest thing to a religious experience.”

    This exhibit is only a small slice of Sasha Meret’s many creations. His imagery reflects a lengthy spiritual exploration, a blend of European, African, Asian, and esoteric symbolism resulting in a highly personal visual language both erotic and exotic. Born in 1955 in communist Romania, Meret has lived and worked in New York City as a full-time artist since 1987. He studied printmaking with Tony Harrison at Columbia University and has exhibited in Europe, Japan, China, and around the United States.

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