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Sculpture by John Dickson at Indigo Art

"Petronas Towers" by John Dickson.

Big John

Canadian John Dickson has a celebrated exhibition history starting in the late 1990s. His earthwork structures of that period resemble branch and limb shelters one might discover in the woods. His sculpture later came to parody scenes of industrial accidents using mechanical and theatrical devices to create kinetic installations where bubbles surfaced from underwater pressure tanks shaped so the resulting emissions spelled out words and phrases when they breached the surface. He built model houses that lowered into pools, sinking mechanically to resemble flooded dwellings. In a wall-mounted wooden model with wool, he re-enacted the long descent of a crippled Lancaster bomber, and made sculptures of small-scale lake boats sunk to the gunwales.

At Indigo Art, Dickson presents his slow-moving disasters with clever twists of intrigue and whimsy. A line of painstakingly spray-painted black and white scenes from Apocalypse Now hangs on one wall. Two ships in wine bottles hold forth in the front of the gallery, both in considerable distress, one a familiar four-stack passenger liner sinking by the bow, the other a tanker capsized in a thick layer of oil. The miniature scale creates an intimacy that monumentalizes the sad resignation of the scenes.

Across the gallery a pair of jeans buoyantly becomes another kind of vessel being filled to the belt line with water. Water is also the slow punctuation to a work in-set in one wall, a weeping eye that courses tears down the smooth surface of the wall, leaving a trail of caustic interruption. Small cardboard sculptures in the upstairs mezzanine examine industrial structures, puffing their cotton wadding effluents, and signature towers of grand heights are celebrated in versions eight inches high. In a parallel development, Dickson has made wall designs of human hair that look at first like small line drawings influenced by Sol Lewitt.

Dickson’s show continues through May 27.

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