Rowan University Art Gallery

HEAVY BREATHING/SLEEPING GIANTS

Opening Reception: AUGUST 30 - OCTOBER 2, 2010

MAX STREICHER

AUGUST 30 – OCTOBER 2, 2010

HEAVY BREATHING/SLEEPING GIANTS is a presentation of Max Streichers inflatable soft kinetic sculptures called sleeping giants.  As described in an essay by Gordon Hart Sleeping Giants, 1998 brought together the phenomenology of the physical body. The giants in their great mass heaved and sighed to the timed intervals of the fans. Lying on their backs and sides, heads rose from the floor, legs stiffened, chests inflated, only to relax again, as if in some futile attempt to get out of bed or off the couch. The giants recalled the body as gross anatomy -- of a soul trapped within spoilable flesh -- the dispirited body, incapable of action because of the sentiment of futility. The giants also recalled the tragic body -- the self perpetuating machine -- needy, voracious, desiring, independent of consciousness and will. The inflatable as art -- the balloon, the soap bubble, the inflatable toy -- until now, has been dedicated to children. Max Streicher has taken the inflatable, the prepubescent symbol of wonder and tragedy and rehabilitated it, or rather, he has given it an adult life. He has done this not by stripping the inflatable of those characteristics that appeal to children, but by probing those aspects that are fundamental to understanding ourselves. We favour children with balloons and they in turn are fascinated by their lightness, enthralled by their buoyancy, and devastated  when they break. With each balloon, we create a round, pudgy, brightly coloured life -- symbolizing at once our joy in creation and our awareness of life's fragility. And therein lies its magic: the inflatable makes the abstract character of our organic existence visible. We know we were born from nothing, we feel our breath now, and we know that we will expire."

Max Streicher is a sculptor and installation artist from Alberta, now residing in Toronto. Since 1989 he has worked extensively with inflatable technology in kinetic sculptures and installation works. He has shown widely across Canada in solo exhibitions in museums such as The Art Gallery of Ontario, Edmonton Art Gallery and the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon. He has been part of group exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei, the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto, the Saidye Bronfman Centre, Montreal, Power Plant Centre for contemporary Art, Toronto and Southern Alberta Art Gallery in Lethbridge. He has completed several international site-related projects in such places as Taichung, Taiwan, Erfurt, Germany and Prague, Czech Republic. His inflatable works are in the collections of museums such as the ESSL Museum, Vienna, The Hara Museum, Tokyo and Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton. He was a founding member of the Nethermind collective of artists who organized four large exhibitions in alternative spaces in Toronto between 1991 and 1995. Max Streicher is currently represented by Galerie Raquel Ponce, Madrid, Galerie Eric Mircher, Paris, Gallery Maskara in Mumbai, India, Felix Ringle Galerie in Düsseldorf, Ricco/Maresca Gallery in New York and Wagner + Partner in Berlin.

Max says about his work, "My intention is to overwhelm the gallery space and impose on the viewer a sense of scale like that which a toddler might experience. I am attempting to recreate a situation like that of childhood encounters with humongous snow banks or haystacks; structures that invite a physical exuberance which in turn leads the imagination . . . In this work I want to physically embrace the viewer within a tension between pleasure and threat, enchantment and self-reflexive awareness."