ON THE RADICALITY OF JOHN NEWMAN
Walking into Brooklyn's Safe Gallery on the final weekend of John Newman's show (covering 35 years of his career from 1982-2017), was an absolute riot. The exhibition is spare and better for it: consisting of ten sculptures, four large-scale drawings, and an installation of 65 recent works on paper, one for each year of the artist's life. It is clear Newman's work demands space to understand the radicality of spirit thundering throughout this exquisite show.
In "The foggy lens needs adjustment" from last year, the work is astounding for the variety of disparate and seeming odd and incongruous pairing of materials: blown acrylic, obsidian sphere, rusted forged steel, wood, foam, papier-mâché, and acqua resin with acrylic paint. So, space is paramount here. The real power is the work's ability to bring you in close, engaging you in a wonderful call and response between art and the body.
"The foggy lens", like the nearby piece "Headhunters", from 2008, is in a continual dance of unraveling itself. You'll find yourself moving and twerking around the work, mimicking curves and elaborate movements, while it simultaneous denies you the ability to narrow down its meaning. Here is the joie de vivre attitude I am sure had viewers dancing and cheering (admiring Newman's innovative and productive output), as his career moves forward with renewed power, clarity, and unwavering optimism.
Congrats to Dan Nadel for curating such a beautiful show.