Roxy Paine in SEDIMENTARY LENS : Savannah College of Art and Design Museum, Georgia
Throughout his decades-long career, Roxy Paine has investigated the tensions between human intention and the power of the natural world. The artist’s multifaceted practice includes large-scale, multimedia sculptures that examine complex systems, from the biological to the geological to the industrial. Through the expression of these interdependent systems, Paine’s work ultimately engages themes of time and decay, a crucial reminder of the hastening devastation of the earth at the hands of humanity and our own impending mortality.
Sedimentary Lens presents recently created, precisely executed relief paintings akin to stratigraphic bisections that meld divergent references on the same picture plane. Commingled manifestations, including fungi, oil drums, and the surface of the moon, slip between abstraction and representation. The exhibition also presents Paine’s pixel paintings, intricate constructions that accumulate thousands of tiny nubs of paint to depict the macro and the micro, from sweeping views of vast wilderness to fungal growths.
A room within the gallery is dedicated to Paine’s dioramas, an important format in the artist’s oeuvre — meticulous windowed environments that mimic the format of natural history displays while complicating their function. Works like Meeting (2016), which positions viewers within an empty, mundane scene that manifests an eerie quality through forced perspective, explore human efforts for control and stability, while works like Access Panel (2021) illustrate humankind’s ultimate failures of control in the face of natural forces like death, decay, and entropy.