Dream No Small Dreams curated by Bartholomew Bland at Ronchini Gallery

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Ronchini Gallery London will present Dream No Small Dreams curated by Bartholomew Bland, Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Hudson River Museum. The exhibition features work by Adrien Broom, Thomas Doyle and Patrick Jacobs – three New York-based artists known for their depictions of artificial landscapes and alternative realities.
Exploring the renaissance of interest among artists worldwide in constructing small-scale hand-built artificial environments, intricate new worlds are presented in miniature as dioramas, models, sculptures, and photographs. Drawing from a variety of pictorial traditions including the 18th century concept of the Sublime, the Hudson River School and American Transcendentalism, the work of these artists puts the world under a microscope to reflect on the human experience.

Broom’s Frames of Mind series of photographs captures fantastical imagined landscapes created through building miniature sets. With a cinematic approach to photography, Broom creates illusions that play between reality and fantasy, emphasising the imaginative impulse. Her images are densely narrative, exploring universal themes of childhood, loss and the anxiety of modern life through these constructed scenes.

Doyle carefully sculpts tiny scenes of destruction, disaster and mayhem encased in glass domes. At the centre of his work is the iconic American clapboard house which can be seen teetering on the brink of sinkholes or cut in half. Figurines are surrounded by apocalyptic chaos yet betray little emotion in their faces. They trudge along with suitcases or bury the dead, inviting viewers to be absorbed in the crucibles and memories they elicit. His work serves as a metaphor not only for the global economic crisis, but more profoundly for the idea that the traditional American homestead is not the safe haven we all presume it to be.
Jacobs produces miniature sculptures of hyper-realistic environments embedded into walls and viewed through glass portholes. Viewed at close range, his works are lit from within, revealing themselves with fisheye luminosity. Working with materials like paper, plastic, acrylic gel and metal, Jacobs constructs three-dimensional landscape dioramas. The idealised, incandescent green expanses characteristic in Jacobs’ work initially seem to provide a respite from the increasingly anxious and paranoid world. The sculptures offer the viewer an isolated view of an attractive alternate reality that always remains eerily out of reach.

In conversation with Adrien Boom and Thomas Doyle:

platformPHOTO: Hi Adrien, can you tell us about your experience working on this project?
Adrien Boom:
I loved working on this series. I’m inspired by the idea of creating worlds that aren’t exactly our own - but which bring about very familiar emotions.

platformPHOTO: Who are your main influences and from where do you draw your inspiration?
Adrien Boom: My influences seem to vary from project to project. However, Gregory Crewdson has always been the artist I go back to again and again for reflection and inspiration.  While he builds extremely elaborate sets that mimic our everyday life, he always adds an element of the strange, or the out of place. I can get lost in his work for hours.

platformPHOTO: What tools and processes have you used to create this series?
Adrien Boom: Sets are built in my studio using a variety objects and tools. I have an idea of what I am trying to get across in an image and then I play with materials and set up until the idea and the piece seem to align in a way that makes sense to me. In some sets I use malleable material to create the shapes I’m looking for, in others I use dirt and mirrors. I tend to pull from whatever I can find.

platformPHOTO: How do you intend people to react to your photographs?
Adrien Boom: Finding beauty in simplicity is a goal for my art, like a form of meditation. I hope it will quiet and inspire the mind of the viewer.

platformPHOTO: To you, what is the role of photography?
Adrien Boom: There are many different roles for all the different expressions of photography. For the work I do, I view it somewhat as an escape. A story told from another place,  but hopefully with a nostalgic connection that will inspire and happify.

platformPHOTO: Thank you so much for your time today Adrien and here’s our last question. If we were to send you to a desert island and allow you to take with you only one picture taken by another photographer, what picture would you take?
Adrien Boom:
Wow, that’s a tricky question! I have a feeling if I was asked this question yesterday or tomorrow my answer may change. Today I will say it would be the photo of Gregory Crewsdson’s, from his Twilight Series. It’s of a young boy standing in a dip below the train tracks, regularly a seedy location, but here it is transformed into a place of hope and beauty. I have no idea if this was the artist’s intention, but it was my reaction. The boy is looking up, coated in light and mist, and you can barely make out figures in the background. When I first saw this photo in a gallery, it was about 6ft long. I stared at it for at least 30 minutes …and could have stayed all day. Once in a while an image pulls you in and won’t let go. I think this is a good image to keep me company and inspired.

platformPHOTO: Hi Thomas, please can you tell us a bit about what sparked the concept and ideas behind your work?
Thomas Doyle: I’m interested in the uncanny, and in things being out of context. In my pieces most everything is just right, except for something that is very, very wrong. I like the jarring collision between the calming world of domesticity and scenes of destruction, warfare, and the like. The liminal space in between the two is the most exciting to me.

platformPHOTO: You state that your work makes us focus on the fragility of our own lives. How do you feel that this message is conveyed through your work?
Thomas Doyle:
The figures in my work are usually at the mercy of their environment, typically barely surviving some heaving disaster. The fact that they appear oblivious to their circumstances probably best describes life; we tend to keep our heads down and get through most things. Really looking at the world around you opens up to how quickly it can all be taken away.

platformPHOTO: How would you best describe your style of work?
Thomas Doyle: “Small-scale sculpture” is how I usually describe it, though there are many other words that would probably better round it out: narrative, psychological, dioramas, scenes.

platformPHOTO: What first inspired you to become an artist and why did you decide to focus on making small-scale sculptures?
Thomas Doyle: I was making dioramas as a small child, as many children do, but my fascination ranged beyond the occasional school project into toy army bases, environments for plastic animals, shoebox dollhouses, and the like. I’ve always made things, but it wasn’t until I was 20 that I realized that making things was my life’s work. Years later, after learning to paint, pull prints, take photographs, etc., I looped back around to making small-scale sculptures and realized that I had found a rich vein that was as exciting to me now as it was when I was a child.

platformPHOTO: Thank you so much for your time today Thomas, we have one last question for you. If we sent you to a desert island and allowed you to take only one picture with you by another photographer, what would this image be?
Thomas Doyle: If it’s only going to be one, I’ll go with any satellite photo of the earth at night. I could stare at those for hours.

Venue: Ronchini Gallery, 22 Dering St London W1S 1AN
Dates: 6 September – 6 October 2021
Opening Reception: 5 September 2013, 6 – 8pm
For more information visit Ronchini Gallery‘s website: www.ronchinigallery.com

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