Eric Oglander: P.E.

Patrick Parrish is thrilled to present a solo exhibition by NYC-based sculptor Eric Oglander. Eric Oglander’s practice is formally, structurally, and materially informed by his multifarious interests. A collector and dealer in folk art, he is attracted to and even romanticizes objects crafted without the explicit intention of viewership; objects that weren’t made to be consumed as artworks. His sculptural practice, often material experiments made within imagined parameters, alludes to these moments forged of necessity and happenstance. His work explores the intersection of the freedom of play and the intentionality of function.

Invention is born of necessity, and necessity implies limits, yet art purports to be free of these. Oglander’s use of found materials provides a generative boundary to disrupt. The fight between form and function is a welcome struggle. Constant collecting leads the artist’s studio to become a mess of items to pull from; small twigs and branches, pieces of plywood, cardboard and paper, beeswax, string, bits of metal, all provide potential for play, which is at the crux of Oglander’s practice. “I play until something good happens. An exercise in aesthetic and physical discovery”.

The relationship between functionality and art is a fraught one. Does an artwork need to be inherently dysfunctional in order to distinguish itself from a useful (thus less valuable) object? What role does function, latent or otherwise, play in our understanding of an object’s meaning or integrity? Oglander’s works could lead multiple lives, not unlike the folk objects he is fascinated by, and invite us to consider their potential energy. Most of the works here are not explicitly mechanized, but they playfully reference their intention to be, although this intention may have been lost, obscured, or abstracted along the way. When these pieces meet, all born of assemblage and happenstance, their miscellaneous materiality creates surprisingly harmonious yet charged combinations. Minimal yet chaotic, intentionally “unintentional”, utilitarian yet useless, P.E. places emphasis on tension and balance, wherein lies the potential for something more than what is visually perceptible.

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