Demetrius Oliver, “Observatory”
D’Amelio Terras, New York
September 2 – 27, 2008
D’Amelio Terras is pleased to present Demetrius Oliver’s first solo gallery exhibition in New York. Through large-scale photography, sculpture, slide-projection, and video, Observatory articulates a visual form for the cycles of thought, investigation, and experimentation endemic to artistic practice and self-discovery.
Relying on materials encountered in daily routine and capturing their reflections off of curved surfaces, Oliver redeploys prosaic objects to unveil new contexts and sites of meaning from a fish-eyed, almost surreal frame of reference. The images capture the artist at work among electrical cords, camera equipment, and scattered tools, contributing to the impression that through Oliver’s lens, one finds the artist in the midst of a private, uncensored event. Even in images where Oliver’s presence is absent, one can sense an implicit human trace through Oliver’s disquieting arrangement of axes, hammers, coal, and table lamps.
Throughout Oliver’s practice, artistic investigation is linked to cosmic exploration and observing the unknown in nature. The planetary, orb-like shape of his images instills an ethereality, allowing everyday action to veer towards the transcendental. Installed in a non-chronological sequence and free from a narrative structure, circular images emerging from black backgrounds appear as planets scattered across a dark sky. A series of stacked plastic buckets suggest the long, simple, cylindrical form of a rudimentary telescope. An intimate video, created in collaboration with the artist Blanche Bruce, depicts a moon drawing by Galileo, spinning to the sound of John Coltrane’s Interstellar Space album. These references to the cosmos are indicative of Oliver’s interest in a Thoreau-like Transcendentalism: specifically, the experience of charting one’s own relationship within a surrounding environment.
Demetrius Oliver has participated in solo exhibitions at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, P.S.1. MoMA Project Space, the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, and Inman Gallery in Houston. Since completing his MFA at the University of Pennsylvania in 2004, Oliver has been a resident at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine, a Core Fellow at The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, a resident at the Studio Museum in Harlem, and a recipient of The Rema Hort Mann Foundation Visual Art Grant.