Joseph Havel

Talley Dunn Gallery
February 22 – March 29, 2014

Continuing Joseph Havel’s ongoing exploration of the nature of meaning, structure, and decay, Stacks presents seven translucent towers of books piled into precariously balanced forms. Cast in polyurethane resin, the sculptures reveal many of the details of their original forms. As the viewer looks inside the clear resin, she sees objects suspended within, including paperback books and smooth stones.  A few of the pieces also feature sections of bronze, and the artist has left traces of the casting process on the sculptures, including areas of flashing and bits of wax.

For Havel, books serve as repositories of knowledge, as forms that insist on permanence and our impulse to resist decay. While the outer books cast in resin represent a particular narrative or set of values, such as the commercial world or the public side of the self, the books captured inside offer a more personal and at times idiosyncratic collection of knowledge and our sense of the world.  Havel offers no judgment in this pairing of value systems, as the interior and exterior narratives play off one another.

In addition, the exhibition contains a major installation entitled Hope and Desire, comprised of ten square Plexiglas boxes filled with tens of thousands of silk shirt labels.  The lines and forms created by the layering of the labels interweave the colors of the two series.  Originally placed precisely to create geometric designs and forms, the weight of the labels cause the forms to shift and settle over time, much as the human body relaxes as it ages. With the simple texts of “Hope” and “Desire” repeated countlessly throughout the composition, Havel uses the words as starting points of investigation, relying on viewers to consider their own interpretations and relationships to possible meanings for his works.