■ Mt. San Jacinto College
The Mt. San Jacinto College Art Gallery is proud to announce a new solo exhibition by David Hendren titled Land of Lens on display from Jan. 17 – Feb. 22. This new exhibition features larger than life mixed-media figurative abstract sculptures. Hendren has had solo shows at Five Car Garage, Meliksetian/Briggs, Anat Ebgi Gallery, Public Fiction and Kim Light/Lightbox. He received an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art and a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Below is MSJC Art Gallery Director John Knuth (JK) in conversation with David Hendren (DH):
JK: Your past sculptures used to be purely abstract.
DH: Yes. It’s funny. When I first got into art, it was all about the figure. I think my first art book was of Rodin’s Burghers of Calais. In art school, I took figure modeling classes. Some time after school, I got interested in abstraction by way of architecture. But this work never satisfied me. There’s a certain kind of meaning that only a figure can carry, at least for me. Interpreting a figurative work is about diving inward. It’s psychological, I guess.
JK: Are the lights in Land of Lens lightning strikes held for infinity?
DH: I’ll have to check the science on this, but isn’t light infinite? Do photons ever stop? I wasn’t thinking about those questions when I put the show together, but it brings up something in relation to the first question. The lights in the show have a kind of speed to them that feels at odds with the “speed” of the sound, but it seemed to work. My sculpture used to have a mechanical aesthetic that, when shown with sound and light, suggested a kind of movement. When the sculptures didn’t move, it felt disappointing. The figures in the show feel more lumbering, almost performing with the sound, and agitated by the light. Hopefully, this tension isn’t held infinitely.
JK: Is your sculpture leaning on his guitar playing drone feedback sounds? Like the sound in the gallery?
DH: There’s a longing to that sound—the drone sound—isn’t there? I was playing my guitar yesterday with a bow, like a violin, and I was wondering what sounds we hear naturally that are akin to that continuous, bowed note. Does that sound also have that sweeping, emotive quality? It’s a slow sound, like it’s underwater. It’s like a dying whale sinking to the bottom of the sea. So to answer your question, which I think could be rephrased, “Is the guitar player forlorn?” The answer is yes. It definitely felt like the riskiest piece in the show for that reason, but once I had decided to make that piece (which is a known trope, the musician), I thought it better to crank the feeling up than to subvert it, or make it critical somehow. I’m not all that good at being critical.
JK: You bring up an interesting point. Your past sculptures used to be purely abstract, and these new sculptures are figurative. You said that because of their relationship to light and music, your past sculptures suggest a kind of movement. I think the sculptures in this show certainly do because they depict figures in motion. They are dynamic—contorting and dancing. The one we spoke about previously is playing a guitar, which is an instrument that is famous for movement produced by it’s players (i.e. Prince, Angus Young, Jimmy Hendrix, Sonic Youth etc.). Did you make these sculptures with performative movement in mind?
DH: I wanted to make these sculptures with body-sized gestures. I was always referencing my arms, moving in arches like Pete Townshend. I tried to limit any fussiness, sanding and polishing. [I wanted] simple movements that would hit you in the gut. So yes, there was performance in mind. They all have two bodies—except the guitar player—which has two heads, more like an alter-ego. But they’re all reacting to the other body in a performative way—dancing, falling, crushing. I was concerned that the show would look too crowded at first, but I think it helped to see those figures in mass or experience the space with them in that kind of proximity.
This reminds me. I went to a Melvins concert the night of the photo shoot for the show. It was a great way to wrap up the installation. I nearly cried. I’m not sure why I’m telling you this here, but the experience seemed to align with the ideas in the show. All that sound and the crowd going nuts—I could hardly think straight.
Hendren’s exhibition is on display from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. at the San Jacinto Campus Art Gallery, Bldg. 1400, 1499 N. State St., San Jacinto.