Exhibition Pick: Scott Andresen

Jacob Kiernan places Scott Andresen’s recent collages, currently on view at Good Children Gallery, in a long history of carefully repairing broken and worn household items.

Scott Andresen, Splice, 2016. Sandpaper, 24k gold leaf, adhesive, and resin on panel. Courtesy the artist.

Scott Andresen
Good Children Gallery
4037 St. Claude Avenue
August 13–September 4, 2016

“Make Do and Mend” was a phrase popularized by the British government during World War II. In a time of harsh rationing of clothes and food, people were encouraged to repair, repurpose, and reuse worn garments and broken household items. Unlike contemporary recycling, individuals themselves were tasked with giving objects new life, learning and inventing new methods. For the past few years, Scott Andresen has experimented with the art of repair by reconstructing broken antiques—“make-dos” as he calls them—and by creating his collaged works, both on view in his current show at Good Children Gallery.

The works in “Contronym” are primarily inspired by kintsugi, the Japanese method of mending broken ceramics using a mix of resin and gold dust in order to highlight the cracks and, accordingly, the objects’ histories. In his large-scale wall works, Andresen connects ripped, colorful pieces of sandpaper (collected from around the world) with gold and silver leaf to create chromatic patterns interspersed with small glimmers of reflected light. The sandpaper, a material fundamental to making do and mending, has been used to the point of ripping and breaking, showing the repetition of physical labor through the unique marks that emerge.

One work reminds me of a birch forest; another, an azure, country sky; a third, a puzzle left childishly unfinished. But incompleteness is the essence of these pieces. They will never be whole, time and history suggested in their scintillating fractures. The beauty of Andresen's work is his ability to find the sublime in the broken and to see damages easily effaced, highlighting that which gives life texture and meaning.