Nick Van Woert “No Man’s Land” Exhibition at OHWOW Preview
Nick van Woert is busy preparing his first solo exhibition with OHWOW gallery with a new body of works entitled No Man’s Land, on view from February 22 through April 6, 2013, at 937 North La Cienega Boulevard. Van Woert’s Los Angeles premiere presents a new body of work focused on topics concerning the natural environment, material chemistry, and the progress of civilization.
“No man’s land” is a term used to refer to unoccupied land, a dumping ground, or an area abandoned due to uncertain fate. This idea of an uninhabitable region relays van Woert’s continued obsession with ecology, geology, and the complex history of terrain – one that is both inherent and fabricated. Through painting, photography, sculpture, and installation, No Man’s Land explores the relationship between artificial substance and the environment, while considering the possible results of those liaisons affecting anatomy or mental disposition.
A series of ten paintings, each a monochromatic panel, references colors found in landscape paintings of the American West from the 1800s. Minimalist in appearance, these works are in fact concocted from myriad man-made products ranging from cat litter to orange soda. The dichotomy, present due to the toxic chemistry of substances used to describe natural properties of pristine landscapes, translates van Woert’s fixation with the destructive potential of modern convenience.
Van Woert transitions to conveying the broader directive of a primitivist lifestyle with a large-scale installation. Its physical appearance literally implies a simple log cabin wall, yet the visual manifestation of its presence posits a foreboding symbol. The individual elements, constructed of cast coal slag, have a black, sooty façade, giving the impression of partial remains left after a fire. The visual extreme in this work – a modest structure with a tragic past – points to the vulnerability and possibly idealistic notion of practicing true “simple living.”
No Man’s Land examines deep ecology, radical environmentalism, and dark histories of the American landscape, yet this comprehensive exhibition advances the subtext by proposing a narrative: a dissection of the architecture of anarchy. Van Woert’s artistic process and resulting work acts as much as a rebellion or battle – with material and concept – as it aims to organize entropy.