Saturday, March 07, 2015

Art Rather Than Plowshares

“Art has spirit”
Al Farrow

The California based sculptor Al Farrow is an intensely spiritual person, but rejects organized religion. As he stated in the Mel Van Dusen video A Visit with Sculptor Al Farrow, “I think religions have become power structures, I think they have become like the government itself, their after the control of the people, money and the power that brings.”

This belief when coupled with the concept inherent in Mao Zedong’s famous dictum "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun" has seen Farrow produce a series of found object sculptures of Churches, Mosques, Synagogues and religious objects he has titled Reliquaries. The found objects Farrow used were guns and ammunition.

About this series of works Farrow told Sangha News’ Tova Green “I have been doing social commentary art all my life. I began the series of religious objects and buildings 17 years ago after a trip to Europe in which I saw Catholic reliquaries. I thought about all the violence done in the name of religion.”

This allusion to impeding violence is a common theme in much of Farrow’s work. His 1980’s Africa Series of bronze sculptures is his comment on the international arms trade and child soldiers. And then there is his earlier Icarus Series of bronze sculptures one of which has the mythical figure who flew too close to the sun crucified on the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the first atomic bomb.

But it is the choice of materials employed in the construction of the Reliquaries that has sparked people’s interest in his work especially after the De Young museum purchased his The Spine and Tooth of Santo Guerro. About which Farrow has said "I'm not dogmatic. I'm trying to get people to ask, 'What are the connections between faith and war?' I stop there. If they're asking the question, I've done my job."

A selection of the Reliquaries is currently on show in the exhibition Al Farrow: Wrath & Reverence at New York’s Forum Gallery until the 2nd of May.

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