Critical Reflections: Timothy Nero

box Gallery<br /> 1611 Paseo De Peralta, Santa Fe

Date July 31, 2008 at 10:00 PM

Author Anthony Hassett

Publication THE magazine

Categories Performing Arts

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While looking at this body of work I was reminded of two recent news items. One was a survey conducted by the University of Michigan, which found that the world is "getting happier."€ The other, which came out two days later and was conducted by a group of astronomers, discovered that the earth emits "an awful, ear-piercing scream,"€ enhanced by carnival-like "chirps and whistles."€ This sense of paradox and absurdity is reflected in Timothy Nero's recent show at box Gallery, which sends the worlds of science, history, philosophy, myth, and religion through a meat grinder. The end product is an alluringly cryptic consummation of cellular nucleus, galactic ring, Gordian knot, narcotic alkaloid, and lysergic brain matter.

In this exhibition, visitors will find themselves quietly addressed by a ten-piece suite of exquisitely rendered ink-on-paper conundrums. Inscrutability, the sublime, and the near surreal pervade each of the pieces, making the work both intriguing and alienating in pretty much equal measure. For example, in a series entitled Gordian Knot, the artist depicts a squiggly intestinal rope locked within the vacuum of a gyrating dust devil.

In another piece, Heroin, Nero is at no loss for amusement in privileging what looks like an actual heroin molecule over any confessional back-story one might hear from a recovering addict. Indeed, there is a tension between the systematic and the entropic in each of these elegant compositions. Nero's talent for slicing through the fabric of the world is impressive. Sinking below the visible, he explores a realm where the human ego is not the triumphant force. Rather, the field of power relationships he prefers to acknowledge is translated at a raw level beneath civilization-nodding instead toward science, metaphysics, and nature.

Unfortunately, the full breadth of Nero's artistic ability is not at hand here; the true delights are conspicuous for their scarcity. Nero has been developing his style for decades and there are a number of through-lines missing, or barely touched upon, in this exhibition. Even so, a sub-theme glimpsed here is Nero's attraction to a kind of collapsing selfhood, often at the locus of identity. One awaits a more serious curatorial consideration of this artist, who has long brought to bear a shape-shifting, paradoxically comic pathos to his utterly distinct productions.

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