Exhibition

Philip Lique: All Paths Lead Home

July 11, 2024 - August 17, 2024

Reception: July 11, 2024, 6PM-9PM

Philip Lique's artistic practice is an exploration of form, material, and the narratives that bind them.

Selected Works

Philip Lique: All Paths Lead Home

Philip Lique’s artistic practice is an exploration of form, material, and the narratives that bind them. In his latest exhibition at Emerson Dorsch, All Paths Lead Home, Lique presents a body of work that synthesizes his multidisciplinary approach to art-making and dissolves the boundaries between traditional craft and contemporary art.

Upon walking into the gallery, we are confronted with the works all at once in what the artist calls a kitsch-kitsch memoryscape—a built environment that encourages a dialogue between objects while inviting viewers to engage with the space. Although it’s clear that the pieces are in conversation with one another by the precision in their installation, they still exist as independent objects in the spatial design.

Lique has installed a large vinyl piece that covers the central portion of the floor, challenging visitors to navigate the space and interact with it. He finds it interesting that as soon as something is placed on the floor, there are rules people create around it. He says of previous floor pieces, “Some people want to walk in and deliberately violate that border, while others only walk on the perimeter. Some walk over the lines, and won’t step on the lines. They create a map for themselves.” The origins of the shapes found in the vinyl design reflect how you would lay a fieldstone deck—knobby rock shapes flattened, butted next to each other, and joined. Yes, Lique knows how to lay a deck, and craftsmanship is an important part of who he is, but this work shows us how he’s taking the conversation one step further. He uses graphic design as a tool to shift our perspective and play with the building blocks of visual vocabularies.

In other works, his use of repurposed materials places a clear emphasis on process. An entire wall features a series of “bricks” made completely from scrap wood. Each module is unique—you’ll find different colors, shapes, and textures underneath the finished surfaces—and assembling them in different ways can produce a multitude of patterns. When looking closely at these works you’ll notice that each piece of wood fits perfectly within another, in the tight and absurdly compact bricks. The details in this series alone exemplifies the meticulous nature of Lique’s process. Now zoom out and you find this throughout the entire exhibition.

For his lamps, Lique used factory-made wicker material and a lampshade kit to give it shape. He then attached the wicker to the metal frames with zip ties. His method subverts a hobbyist approach while the shade’s material echoes a now outmoded Americana design. The wicker also recalls mid-century mass-produced furniture. Referencing them this way assigns them a kitsch status—it frames them with nostalgia and embarrassed association at the same time, all the contradictions inherent in “kitsch.” He reiterates this theme in the lamps’ bases, which are made from molds he found near his studio in a working-class neighborhood near the highway. Perhaps ambivalently, he camouflages the molds’ original puppy-kitty-type form with a confetti pattern.

The chair placed near the center of the space is made from a variety of composite lumber scraps glued together and hand shaped with an angle grinder. It’s then polished with furniture wax to give it a smooth and weathered finish. Similarly, the three “logs” whose pedestals mimic sawbucks are a perfect example of how he repurposes material over and over until he completes a full cycle with it, and maybe even more. He’s not interested in precision, but the labor itself—the time that it takes to make something by hand. Lique says that these sculptures are more like gestures that look like an attempt to return the material to the form from whence it came; he’s not trying to make them into some sort of sensible construction. True to the nature of his work, the logs are made of scraps from another project that are collaged, ground, shaped, and polished until they go back to a place where they feel like they have the surface of a piece of furniture. Again, a cycle—it’s no longer just wood, but something different, a collection of surface and texture.

Another central piece, there are many, is a raised platform made of vinyl composition tile (VCT) that extends down from the wall…or up onto the wall, depending on how you see it. These are the tiles we remember from classrooms and doctors’ offices, a material easy to find at any Home Depot and practically indestructible. Lique creates a patterned arrangement with the colored tiles proposing an aesthetic that feels familiar in the art world. A connection with both the material and the design seems like an invitation to walk down the path, until the work climbs up and denies us access.

Past the floor vinyl, the chair, and the VCT path, we arrive at Lique’s newest work, a series of lithographs he recently completed at a printmaking residency in North Carolina. They are in direct conversation with the bricks installed on the parallel wall, a type of translation of the bricks if you will. The prints follow their dimensions almost identically—they are an exploration of the relationship between a somewhat flattened sculpture to something that is a very flattened planar surface. Beyond recognizing some of the shapes that correlate with the ones across the gallery space, the colors are quite powerful. Magentas and purples are matched with cyan, oranges and yellows share a burgundy frame, and somehow bright greens turn into earth tones when paired with a burnt red. Lique refers to the process of making these prints as “a dance between 3D and 2D work,” and given his continued work in independent publishing, it’s compelling to see so many elements of his practice at play through this series.

In organizing a show about materials and storytelling, it’s inevitable that we are confronted with the complexities of memory. Lique prefers to make work that can be intuitively understood and that appeals to viewers’ senses, slowly revealing a conversation with their surroundings. Material, shape, and color already connect our collective memories, but then he also subtly weaves in references to home throughout the exhibition. Be it through the craftsmanship displayed in his sculptures—his father was a mason who understood the importance of passing down skill—or the artistry found in the quilt that hangs on one of the walls—a collaboration made with the artist’s mother—all paths lead to home.

On the remaining wall, images from Lique’s childhood are enlarged, printed, and installed to resemble wall graphics in a department store, and we begin to connect the dots. Lique supersizes images of his dilapidated family farm in this way “to place the viewer into both a setting and a state of being—a place that is fast fading from memory into obsolescence.” The graphics’ halftone print pattern resonates as a signifier of diminished resolution (or memory) and corresponds with the artist’s color palette.

As we unravel the relationship between memory, history, order, gesture, and design, we find the synergy that connects all of the work in this built environment. The evidence is there, and much like the quilt that gets passed down to the next generation, Lique’s memoryscape tells a story of history and craft that doesn’t just end at one generation, it continues.

 

Philip Lique: All Paths Lead Home, by Ana Clara Silva, July 6, 2024

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