The Old Gods, William Corwin

September 6 - October 12, 2018

Geary is pleased to present Will Corwin’s The Old Gods , an exhibition of metal and plaster casts that explore how objects absorb aspiration and desire and reflect back regenerative power. Based on sculptural types drawn from Sumerian, Babylonian, Eqyptian, and Hellenistic antiquity, Corwin distills these mythological and spiritual images of deities, demons and kings down into their pure symbolic content and finds their commonalities.

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William Corwin
The Map Room
Includes Tired Crucifix i, Amenophis iv, and Gudea
, 2018
wood, sand, plaster, paint

He scales his sculptures so that they insert themselves directly into the presence of the viewer: his goal is to instill in the spectator a desire to hold these pieces in their hands, activating unexpected emotions of tenderness, intrigue and delight not often associated with contemporary sculpture.

The sculptures are objects of personal devotion, based on amulets and idols as well monumental historical installations: he plays with the contrast between a gigantic form which has been shrunk down, such as the striding portrait Amenophis iv (2018), an 18-inch tall sculpture based on a 17-foot tall standing pharonic portrait of Tutankhamen. He also features the household god Pazuzu (2018), a fearsome winged female deity, based on a Mesopotamian amulet intended to be worn as a necklace.  Images of Pazuzu were often worn by pregnant women and travelers to provide protection and direction, in much the same way contemporary people become attached to their smart devices as mediums of oracular power. By shrinking gargantuan ancient works down to Lilliputan size and enlarging smaller objects, Corwin hopes the viewer will reflect of how much they rely on these overlooked talismans in everyday life.

Corwin pulls all of these tropes together, and along with his recent sculptures in Hydrocal, lead, and tin, presents the largest piece in the exhibition; The Map Room (2018) a site-specific sand-box based sculpture that functions as a conceptual rumpus room in which Corwin’s entities, deities and personalities interact, discourse, and create their own hierarchies. Much like the holy sanctuaries, ancient temples and necropolises of the ancient world where the deities were protected, assembled and left to their own devices, the artist’s menagerie of forms create surreal allegiances among odd bedfellows.  In Corwin’s universe the old Gods seem to be getting along just fine.

A fully illustrated 96 page catalog will accompany the exhibition; featuring writings by Jarrett Earnest, Charlotta Kotik, Gregory Volk, Elisabeth Kley and Saul Ostrow, as well as discussions between Corwin and archaeologists Colin Renfrew and Yonas Beyene.

William Corwin is a sculptor and writer who has shown his work widely in New York City and in Europe.

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William Corwin

A graduate of Princeton University, where he studied architecture, Will has exhibited  his work at LaMama Galleria, Zurcher Gallery, Geary Contemporary and The George and Jorgen Gallery in London.  Residencies include: the State Department Artist Residency at the Taipei Artist’s Village (2007), The Clocktower Gallery (2010), The Hamburg City Guest Artist Residency (2010), Art Omi (2014), Lower Manhattan Workspace Residency on Governors Island (2014).  Museum shows include Roots/Anchors in at The Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art at Snug Harbor, a four person show featuring the work of Shervone Neckles, Katie Holten, and Xaviera Simmons, with exhibition catalog essay by Lucy Lippard.

In 2019 he curated Postwar Women at The Art Students League, an exhibition of forty-four of the institution’s alumnae active between 1945 and 1965, featuring artists such as Lee Krasner, Lenita Manrey, Mavis Pusey, Perle Fine, Elizabeth Catlett, and Dorothy Dehner. He has also curated a series of exhibitions centering on the midcentury French painters Marguerite Louppe and Maurice Brianchon, at Lafayette College, Albright College, and Seton Hall University, and most recently this past spring and summer at Rosenberg & Co. He is the author of the book &Model, published by Leeds Metropolitan University, and is the editor of the upcoming book: Formal Concerns: Collected essays of Saul Ostrow, to be published by Elective Affinity Press in 2023. He was most recently included in three of Phong Bui’s exhibitions, Singing in Unison, in the summer of 2022.