John von Bergen’s newest exhibition Prey Voidant calls our assumptions about artistic material into doubt. Gallery walls yawn open, rusted metal transforms into putty, gravity seems irrelevant. Few words are needed to convince one to explore von Bergen’s works — they are abstract but extremely compelling.
His largest installation NOT (2014) transforms the gallery space at alexander levy. Harpoon-like poles poke through a goopy looking hole in the wall, making the structure viewable from both sides. The fractured metal is reminiscent of broken bones, or the results of a car accident. But von Bergen doesn’t just smash metal together, he creates these materials out of entirely different materials, like paint and polymer-gypsum. Even his drawings are so intricately drawn that they look like a photograph of one of his structures, rather than just pencil on paper.
Dynamism characterizes von Bergen’s works — the flat drawings appear three-dimensional, and the three-dimensional sculptures have a sense of mobility. Whether instant visual awe or lingering musings about material and the introduced concept of voids, von Bergen demonstrates that even his smaller-sized works can mystify.
Blog entry by AJ Kiyoizumi in Berlin; Thursday, Feb. 06, 2014.