Written by Justine Morrow
The vast amount of materials, techniques and skills that Chad Andrews‘ works with should tell you immediately that this is a person with the need to describe the infinitesimal aspects of life by any means appropriate. Paintings, drawings, paper cuttings, prints and plastics; Andrews creates a lyrical world of art objects each a sort of a portal to an amalgamation of realities and philosophies.
As of now Andrews perseveres in the studio creating silicone works for his solo show at Goggleworks Cohen Gallery entitled “Heavy Construction, Delicate Destruction”. If you’ve been fortunate enough to catch one of his exhibitions and have stood before his massive black works you would’ve noticed how much his pieces resonate with those words. Each silicone plastic illustration cum sculpture is like a fine inky lace. Some of them seem more like the brittle and charred skeletons of buildings eaten by fire, or like the intricate webs of telephone wires in the sky. No matter what existential idea or metaphor resonates with you personally, it is immediately clear that Andrew’s’ work hits deep at many socio amd eco-political issues.
Constantly, and for decades, global tales of woe have wracked the public via every news outlet around the world. Not only are we often using resources faster than we can replace them, our oceans are littered with plastic, our forests are depleted, the population swells. And so it is Chad Andrews pieces that directly ask questions of our relationship with deconstruction, construction, recreation, all with a quiet but powerful presence. Black machinery looming but also melting and dissolving to the floor. Are the bulldozers juggernauts of world power greed destroying natural resources in the gain, or are they relics resting in an abandoned field? Between the depictions of dilapidated cities still sprawling and selling wares, the chain links, and the placid portraits of suburban living, there is something overtly haunting but also comforting. The deeply ingrained ideals of consumerism leave us with a hope that we may fit in somewhere inside Chad Andrews pop culture cataclysm. Andrews so adeptly illustrates these realities that they easily are digested into our sphere of recognition perhaps as a visual aid for the collective unconscious. “We have already ascertained what the universal is among living beings: it’s that nature where one of those intentions called “universal” does not exist as a single entity within reality itself; indeed, the universal itself as such does not exist as an isolated fragment of its whole.” (Avicenna, Metaphysics, curated by Olga Lizzini and Pasquale Porro, Bompiani (Western Thinking), first edition 2002) Andrews oeuvre is as much a part of our reality as it is separate because it is an art object that surreptitiously depicts it. Each silicone sculpture is a dialectic and universal conversation.
It is not only a discussion about our consumerist habits that these pieces engage in. Andrews living illustrations often reverberate an atmosphere of urban and industrial spaces. There is an aspect of sad beauty; a feeling that the long forgotten pedicured lawns and dilapidated buildings have been let go, run down, while nature slowly returns them to their original state. But as this restoration by Mother Earth continues, the deserted sites also seem to be filled with echoes of populations that have been abandoned as well. Whispers of diaspora, race and class warfare, promises awaited but never received. If these overtones aren’t implicit, one would hope that the calm, but impending doom, lilting in the air around these sculptures would provide means of enlightenment. There have been numerous studies on the effects art can have on open minds. Whether it be lower income families feeling more community cohesion through arts education and enrichment experiences, or hyper political acts of art a la Ai Weiwei proportions, creations that have a poignant concept can be conduits of deeper understanding. Chad Andrews silicone sketches are poetic meditations with an integrated philosophical and semi-educational approach.
It is no small wonder then, with all the conceptual underpinnings, collections of moments, ideas, events, that Chad Andrews work would be so multimedia based. His approach, his process, is one of many different layers, with many different details. While his upcoming solo show blends drawings, sculptures, and installation into one cohesive vision, there is still more to uncover with Andrews himself. A master printer, a pedagogue…it would be difficult to accurately encapsulate all that he has to offer or illustrate. Pajama Factory put this most succinctly, “In a recent studio visit with Andrews, a critic stated that, “If someone thinks they know what you do, they don’t know you.” Andrews took this as a compliment and keeps pushing his life and work forward. Andrews art keeps him observing and participating in the world around him and as this world changes so does his work.” And, as a reflection of this sentiment, it is the black silicone machines that symbolize transformation, an awakening of the dirt and dust surrounding us.