Rubber yellow boots, CDs, tools, plastic flowers, pictures of Shakira, and globs of glue lay splayed across the ground or stacked into haphazard towers. Jason Rhoades’ new show at David Zwirner may at first seem like an explosion of trash and treasures, but it was in reality thoroughly organized and consciously arranged.
“People have a preconception that Jason showed up for a show and created his work right in the gallery, but his exhibitions were always carefully designed and planned out in his studio beforehand,” Zwirner said at the press preview today.
The exhibition, just the second solo show of Rhoades’ at the gallery since his sudden death in 2006, centers around PeaRoeFoam, Rhoades’ self-made recipe for a “brand new product and revolutionary new material” created from whole green peas, fish-bait salmon eggs, and white foam. The material, at once sculptural and architectural, can be manipulated and morphed into whatever shape the mind desires—”full of potential,” according to Zwirner.
In its mix of order and chaos, its trashiness and sublimity, the exhibition embraces the contradictions and duality of Rhoades’ art. Zwirner highlighted this dichotomy through Rhoades’ imagery of the actress Marilyn Chambers. Plastered across the sculptural installation, the actress appears in an ad for Ivory Snow detergent from 1972 as well as the poster for Behind the Green Door, the first feature length adult film which also happens to star a significantly less-wholesome Chambers.
In the detergent ad, Chambers poses with a rosy-cheeked baby as a “modern day madonna and child,” while in the film poster Chambers appears seductive and topless. Zwirner explained that “Jason was very interested in these violent, strange contrasts that our culture creates on its own.”
Zwirner, who has represented the artist for 21 years, starting in 1993 as part of his gallery’s original roster of artists, claimed it was his “mission to further Jason’s work.”
“Jason was completely fearless, any convention was something to challenge,” Zwirner summed up. “He was so creative it was scary, you’d go into the studio and get a headache so much was going on. His was one of the most rewarding professional experiences in my life, and continues to be.”
“Jason Rhoades: PeaRoeFoam” runs from September 11 until October 18 at David Zwirner’s West 20th Street Chelsea location.