“It is such intense proximities that magnetize, inspire, and buoy artist Jeffry Mitchell’s tragicomic universe, imbuing his current exhibition with an exuberant pathos that is emblematic of his larger practice as a sculptor and installation artist. From cut drawings, prints, and assemblage, to the centrality of ceramic sculpture within his work, Mitchell’s exhibition-making continues to explore a visual language wherein the big animals within his retinue—cartoonish elephants, bears, tigers, and eroticized men—exist alongside bunnies, roosters, and flora that teem together in both paradox and earnest dialog to explore the big themes of love, loss, shame, desire and vitality. Mitchell opens his landscape to scenes that leave the viewer prone to acknowledging erotic submission and self-questioning alike. The circling ascent and descent of levels and perforations adorning the newest ceramic vessels disorients as their restive motion strikes multiple emotive registers, by turns falling into delirium and rising into confrontation and embrace.
Dissolving well-behaved taxonomies and hierarchies in favor of connection and cross-pollination, Mitchell embraces his embellishment of symbolic motifs as a kind of folkloric lingua franca that readily transposes both fear and erotic energy to produce a canny beauty and ethos of shared becoming. Prodding his most recent bottle and vessel ceramic forms, for example, to epic density in their garlanded, bulbous, and brocaded patterns, Mitchell is in full control of a fervent yet masterful repetition as the bodily excesses of his newest assemblies are offset with a limited palette of soft yet wet grey, pink, and blue glazes that wrestle with the cacophony of forms. Motifs mingle in Mitchell’s choreography as cats become tigers, bears become men, and vice versa, with transformation and shape-shifting belying his readiness to mix symbolisms, to work from cultural largesse rather than paucity, not to escape but to encounter and confront. As with the visual echo of 17th century Korean minwha folk paintings of tigers present in Mitchell’s newest cut paper drawings, it’s the expressive presence of their faces that Mitchell covets and relates into his style. No longer distanced and regal atop the mountain, the tiger is allowed a gamut of expressions and Mitchell takes full advantage, having the tiger exist between the Christian agape of mouth-open wonder and a more bemused bafflement informed by songs of experience.” -Fionn Meade, Independent Curator
Mitchell lives and works in Seattle
Jeffry Mitchell: Tyger! Tyger!
Exhibition Dates: October 30 – December 1, 2018
PDX CONTEMPORARY ART
925 NW Flanders Street
Portland OR 97209