Al Farrow’s visually stunning, emotionally unsettling sculptures of religious architecture, ritual objects and reliquaries, meticulously crafted from deconstructed guns, bullets, glass and steel are at once seductive and confounding. This is visual art that stimulates a cascade of thought and feeling, just as Al Farrow, a sculptor in all media for forty years, experienced on a trip to Italy fifteen years ago when he was confronted with a reliquary containing the remains of an ancient Saint. He had seen a light that has since illuminated his unique exploration of religious history and violence, of luminous beauty and harsh truth, of peace, progress and brutality.
In the exhibition are churches, synagogues, mosques, a mausoleum, Jewish ritual objects and Christian ‘casket’ reliquaries, all rendered from munitions. The buildings are highly detailed and faithful to reality in terms of proportion and architectural design. One monumental sculpture, Bombed Mosque, took the artist a year to create in his California studio, using more than 50,000 disarmed bullets and shell casings. The patterns and decorations formed from patinated and polished bullets adorn the structure in hauntingly accurate turquoise and gold; but one side of the massive dome is blown open, bombed in fact, speaking to the deep chasm between religious sects.
A Menorah, crafted from barbed wire and machine gun shells, is clearly layered with meaning and reference, but is an object of great reverence as well, attuned to past and present while statuesque and compelling in its presence.
The tall spire of a Protestant church, entitled Revelation, reaches for the heavens while the Spartan structure below contains a copy of Durer’s etching of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Farrow makes art not about a certain religion, but about the repetition of history, the inexorable battle of mankind, and the perversion of organized religion as a whole.
Sacred and profane, metaphoric and literal, gleaming and shocking, Al Farrow’s art is unforgettable and deeply moving.
Al Farrow’s work was the subject of a solo exhibition at the San Francisco Fine Arts Museum (the de Young) in 2008. His sculptures are included in the public collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the San Jose Museum of Art, 21c (Louisville, Kentucky); the de Young Museum and the Government of the State of Israel. The Forum Gallery exhibition, accompanied by a 112-page catalogue with essays by Eleanor Heartney and Diana L. Daniels and a foreword by Chris Hedges, continues to the Crocker Art Museum (Sacramento, CA), 21c Museum (Louisville, KY), and the Catharine Clark Gallery (San Francisco, CA). The San Francisco artist will be available for interviews in New York through March 10th and by telephone thereafter.
The exhibition begins on March 5, 2015 with an opening reception on March 6, 2015 from 5:30-7:30 pm and the artist will be present. The exhibition will be on view through May 2, 2015. Forum Gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 am to 5:30 pm.
For more information, please contact Kevin Dao, 212-355-4545; firstname.lastname@example.org