I'm certain that the fact of being a writer helps me respond so positively to works of art made from words. Ed Ruscha, John Baldessari, Lawrence Weiner, even going back to when Picasso glued his first snippet of newspaper to a painted canvas. The words retain their usual function, signifying meaning, definition and, when used well by artists, they gain extra layers as the appearance and context affect our accustomed reading.
Jack Pierson makes various forms of art – photographs and drawings, for instance -- but the words remain my favorite. They are composed like ransom notes from the letters of vintage signs. This is the work that has brought him abundant success and at Regen Projects' new Hollywood location he has amped up the wattage. "End of the World" are words that stand fourteen feet tall, constructed of wood, painted a dull metallic gray and cutting a diagonal across the enormous space. Unlike his usual letters, these are fabricated, not found, and have the impact of a close-up view of the Hollywood sign. They riff off the big text credits of an old sci-fi spectacle.
The gallery is dim so the words emerge out of shadows. On the floor behind, a small record player repeatedly plays the same haunting refrain from Just a Dream by Jimmy Clanton. The word "Sad" is spelled out on the rear wall in a quirky arrangement of letters. On the wall in front of the sign there is a loosely rendered portrait of singer Little Richard painted by Pierson while on the wall facing the street hang three aqua neon tubes in the simple linear shapes of waves. Sad is certainly one emotion conjured by the show. Melancholy, longing, loss are others. Not, curiously, evoked by the idea of the end of the world on the Mayan calendar, which came and went as something of a joke on 12-21-12, but by the impact of pieces referring to a recent past that remains alive for us, still potent, if only in our memory. The show is, as one of Pierson's own pieces announces in vintage letters, "A Triumph!" The show continues through February 16. For more information, go to www.regenprojects.com.
Banner image: Installation view of The End of the World. Courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles © Jack Pierson. Photography by Brian Forrest