Frond, 2013, acrylic paint on Basswood, 17” x 14” x 5”
October 19, 2013 – December 8, 2013
CB1 Gallery is pleased to present Paul Donald, Blind, our second solo show of the artist’s work. Blind proposes a variety of readings in the face of the objects in the exhibition. Mimicking bird decoys, the objects are effectively blind, both in the sense that they know not what they are but also that they are without eyes. Also, a blind is used by hunters to hide from their intended prey, often when used in conjunction with decoys.
Utility and connoisseurship are evoked in the world of bird decoys. A bird decoy, a thing initially created to impart a false sense of comfort, safety, and plenty (collective safety) in game birds, is also a thing aimed at providing plenty (nourishment) for those hunters hidden in their blinds. In turn, the decoy has become a highly valued collectible. By investing time, effort, skill, and resources into the researching of what makes a good decoy and how best to use them hunters take a risk in order to provide a means for survival. Eventually that skill, in the face of comforting payoffs provided by successful decoying, allowed for the fetishizing of the objects themselves. First the effectiveness of the decoy was lauded, then its aesthetics, and eventually, the rarity. All tied to the "maker,” whether known or not.
Are decoys art? As with the artist’s other projects Donald laboriously crafts objects or build environments in order to work between the hand made and the aesthetically valued, the aesthetic and the usable—every project is underlaid by a conceptual interest in the limits (or not) between craft and art, art and architecture, as well as begging questions about particular content and rendering innocent forms (like the decoys) in provocatively corporeal ways. As Jonathan Katz has stated of an earlier project (Certainties, 2008), his work consistently explores “the hand’s ability to hold chaos at bay, to defeat the forces of disorder, to hold the word at hand, in hand.”
Donald is fascinated by the way in which this system of values in the world of decoy making and collecting (still vital today, in spite of the anachronism of duck hunting) echoes so directly that of the art world—while the art world (in spite of claims that we are beyond modernism with its distinctions between high and low culture) would have nothing of such objects.
Couldn’t we say, in fact, that the art world is itself a kind of “blind”? And perhaps “artists” and “audience” members are like hunters and their prey, molded by the circumstances of their staged activity in the gallery.... Then the question remains who is the hunter, and who the prey (and where the art work resides in that formulation). Either way, the artwork is a kind of decoy or lure, and we are compelled by the circuits of attraction among artist, artwork (decoy), and audience. Maybe, then, the artist and audience members are also lures. Which of these is the ultimate lure, then, remains open to question.
New-Zealand born artist Paul Donald obtained a BFA and MFA studying in Auckland and Sydney, Australia. He has exhibited throughout Australia, North America, and the UK. Recent solo exhibitions include: Woulden, CB1 Gallery, Los Angeles, 2011; Spill, James Dorahy Project Space, Sydney, 2010; Untendable, Untitled Gallery, Manchester, UK, 2010; Certainties, Akau Inc, Toronto, Canada, 2009; Drift, 20 + 3, Manchester, UK, 2010; Companion, James Dorahy Projects, 2007.