Paul Swenbeck, installation view with (left to right) Familiars, 21 x 6 x 5 in.; Familiars, 2 x 8 x 7.5 in.; Untitled (from Crinoid series), 39 x 18 x 19 in.; and Familiars, 15 x 5 x 6 in. All works ceramic, 2011.

Paul Swenbeck


Fleisher/Ollman Gallery

For more than a decade, Paul Swenbeck has made cross-media work that materially explores the translation of marginalized practices into contemporary culture. His visual and theoretical sources range from the occult (he grew up in Salem, Massachusetts), folk expression, and pre-scientific phenomena to sci-fi illustration and the debunked psychoanalytic experiments of Wilhelm Reich. For his recent exhibition, “Dor and Oranur,” he drew on prehistoric forms to produce two dramatic tableaux envisioning the early conflicts and practices of human and animal life. The show’s epic staging was multi-sensory. Orange, green, and blue filtered lighting dappled the walls and ceiling; low-lying octagonal plinths stretched with shiny spandex sagged under the weight of Swenbeck’s ceramics; and an ambient soundtrack produced in collaboration with Aaron Igler pulsed from multiple speakers. …see the entire review in the print version of September’s Sculpture magazine.