kent rogowski: love = love + future(perfect).

American artist Kent Rogowski has been blessed with the ability to see things from their opposite sides. There’s a through-line in his work of taking something common, and possibly even a little cliché in it’s normally-accepted function, and reversing it into something unexpectedly moving.

In his latest exhibition, “Love = Love”, opening this week at the Jen Bekman Gallery in Soho, Rogowski discovered that puzzles pieces, as long as the puzzles come from the same company, are interchangeable. Which makes total sense – they’d use the same assembly line and just change the image. With that insight revealed, Rogowksi has created a series of amazing puzzle-piece mosaics. I love how he’s taken something commonplace and not necessarily all that inspiring and transformed it into something beautiful without actually changing it’s original intention. The puzzle pieces all fit together just like how they were meant to… he just used different pieces. And in so created something completely unique.

Rogowski made a big time splash last year with his series “Bears”. He took teddy bears, reversed their furry skins, and then re-stuffed them. The result is disarming second look at why we will or won’t accept something that’s supposed to be cute once it’s become disfigured.

Obviously, there’s a whole statement on our cultural obsession with physical perfection we could get into, but for me it’s more the way it’s forces us to reevaluate our concept of what an item should look like. Just like all great design, it takes something, alters it, and then forces you to decide if you can accept the changes. And if you can’t… then why can’t you?

“Bears” garnered tons of blog and media buzz and the exhibition is currently travelling around the world. Building on that momentum, Rogowski’s released a hard cover book chronicling the collection. If you want to get some inside info on Rogowski’s process and motivation, you can check out a Rocketboom interview with him here.

I also found this simply kick ass comment on “Bears” in Rogowski’s press section:

“I think these photographs might mean happiness. They are made by softness and cotton.”
-Nicholas, 3th grade student, PS84 NY

Made by softness and cotton! Kids are fucking geniuses.

My favourite of Rogowski’s work however is “Future(Perfect)”. In it he takes ho-hum looking snowglobes and, rather than commemorating a trip or souvenir or something soul-less, creates within each globe a moment in time not nearly as bombastic, but probably more eventually meaningful. Rogowski says “Like a photograph the moment is static and can be contemplated and preserved; the narrative is only suggested leaving it’s conclusion and meaning up to the viewer.”

There’s something about this that works two-fold for me. I think there’s a kind of nostalgic pull to the idea of a snowglobe – the way your imagination and focus becomes temporarily transported inside it. It’s a very personal and intimate moment when someone is gazing into one of these things. So to already be opened up to that feeling, and then see inside not something happy but something sort of heart-achingly lonely, makes it hit home even harder. In each one there’s a heavy moment of realization, hanging in that sort of viscous water, and the people inside don’t know just how close to the brink of it they really are. But we do.

And, just a little cherry at the end here, I also found this really hot neon installation, called (not surprisingly) “Neon”, on his site.

All images © Kent Rogowski

Love = Love found via Josh Spear.

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  1. […] One of my favourite artists, Kent Rogowski, has two killer new prints from his “xx” series up for grabs on […]

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