Adam McEwen ‘Meddle’

Installation view 'Meddle', The Modern Institute, Aird’s Lane, Glasgow, 2019
The Modern Institute, 3 Aird's Lane, Glasgow

‘Meddle’ is the third solo exhibition at The Modern Institute by New York-based artist Adam McEwen. Central to his recent practice, McEwen focuses on the reproduction of utilitarian objects in unexpected materials – graphite, sponge, PVC and aluminium — McEwen’s exhibition solicits the reconsideration and evaluation of contemporary culture’s material dependence.

Life-sized reproductions of a Brannock Device*, birth control pills and the rim from a car punctuate the gallery space. Milled from graphite, their presence is both literally and metaphysically heavy. Detached from their original context and function, McEwen succeeds in imparting feelings of anxiety and unease in overtly familiar and unremarkable forms — the dense, physical characteristics of the material itself, intensifying this unspecified malaise.

Similar objects are found in McEwen’s wall-based works – a guitar and paper towel dispenser are adhered to sponge supports — the bright colour and physical lightness of which contrasts the solidity of the protruding graphite. The prominence of their display and re-imagined function as art transforms passive functionality into confrontational form.

In his new aluminium works McEwen elevates stretcher bar supports into mirrored sculpture, an enobling that is undermined by an impractically bulky construction and PVC wrapping – the translucency of which removes any immediate recognition of form, rendering the familiar, unfamiliar. Indeed, a former obituary writer, McEwen could be seen to be producing monuments of a vacuous consumer culture marked by death.

*A device designed to measure shoe size, named after its inventor Charles F. Brannock.

Adam McEwen (b. 1965, London, UK); lives and works in New York. McEwen studied at Christ Church, Oxford and California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA. McEwen exhibits internationally, selected solo exhibitions include: ‘10, FEELS LIKE 2’, Lever House Art Collection, New York (2019); ‘I Think I’m In Love’, Aspen Art Museum, Aspen (2017);The Modern Institute, Glasgow (2016); Harvest, Petzel Gallery, New York (2016); Museo Civico Diocesano di Santa Maria dei Servi, Città della Pieve (2015); Non-Alignment Pact, Art: Concept, Paris (2014); Factory Tint, Capitain Petzel, Berlin (2014); Sawney Bean, The Modern Institute, Glasgow (2013); Atomkraft Paintings, National Exemplar, New York (2013); The Goss Michael Foundation, Dallas (2012); 11.11.11, Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills (2011); A Real Slow Drag, Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York (2011); The House of Marlon Brando, Galerie Art: Concept, Paris (2011); Switch and Bait, Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, New York (2009).

McEwen has participated in numerous group shows across America and worldwide including those at: The Modern Institute, Glasgow, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis; White Flag Projects, Saint Louis; Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao; Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami; Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, New York; P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, New York; White Columns, New York; Gagosian Gallery, London and Beverly Hills; Hayward Gallery, London; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art, San Francisco.