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For the second exhibition to be held at RARE's new space in Chelsea, the gallery will show sculptures by the artists Paul Hazelton and Herb Williams. Both utilize commonplace, readily available materials - Hazelton works primarily with household dust, Williams with crayons - to comment on some of the more intriguing facets of human nature.
Working in a manner that can be characterized as meticulous, immaculate, perhaps even obsessive, the artists magically transform their materials: Hazelton's small and large-scale objects, which seem part memento mori and part archaeological relics from an ancient cabinet of curiosities, not only include dust among their component materials, but also lint, cobwebs, dirt, and insect skeletons. Williams has fashioned thousands upon thousands of crayons into a room-size installation that mingles aspects of mythology and fairytale resulting in a contemplative sculptural setting.
Dust is Hazelton's ally - he grew up in a home where extreme cleanliness was the norm, so much so that when he set up his own home he refused to dust it. Dust became the material that spurred his creativity. The irony is that the immaculate-ness and obsessive-ness he became accustomed to as a child manifested itself in the process of making art. While his objects exhibit a slightly whimsical, how-did-he-make-that quality, they are a conduit for addressing weightier issues of perceived value, religion, the environment, domesticity, and mortality. One of the centerpieces of Hazelton's exhibition is Being and Nothingness (2007-09), which is a skeleton that consists of dust, lint, and insect skeletons, the stuff a human body pretty much becomes once it is six feet under for a time. Yet the very materials that signify death are used here to create something ethereal, beautiful, and transcendent - like life itself.
Williams' room-size installation, entitled Plunderland (2009), consists of nearly 500,000 Crayola crayons that have been re-contextualized from nostalgic implements of childhood into a contemporary bestiary that addresses human concerns and fears. Crayon clouds from above and below provide the enclosure in which a giant, twisting, technicolor vine becomes a lifeline for three rabbits that have climbed out of their hole. They find themselves on uncertain ground between the cloud layers as they begin their odyssey, the result of which cannot be known. The Golden Fleece, draped over the vine, seems within their grasp, but a Cheshire-like beast reclines nearby perhaps ready to pounce or maybe sufficiently sated from its last kill, judging from its bloodied muzzle, to let the rabbits pass. Mingling shades of "Jack and the Beanstalk," Jason's Quest for the Golden Fleece, and Alice in Wonderland,Plunderland is a metaphor for the often treacherous search for human fulfillment.
Hazelton, who makes his home in the seaside town of Margate on the Kent coast of England, has exhibited extensively throughout the UK. His show at RARE has been made possible in part by a grant from the British Council. Williams' work can be found in numerous public and private collections; it has been extensively profiled in the media, particularly in connection with his portrait of President Obama (Unite, 2008) consisting of 50,000 crayons.