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ROGUE LOCOMOTIVES: New work by Benjamin Reiss and Conor Thompson


December 15, 2013 - January 25, 2014

Let us feed the unknown, not from despair, but simply to enrich the unfathomable reservoirs of the Absurd! - The Futurist Manifesto, F. T. Marinetti, 1909


Actual Size is pleased to present Rogue Locomotives: New work by Benjamin Reiss and Conor Thompson, an exhibition of sculpture and painting. Reiss and Thompson’s constructed worlds converse with the surreal through studied abstraction. The artists describe purposeful and absurd systems with an inner logic of bold color and shape. Like two way mirrors, the pieces reflect and collapse form to describe the visible while they function as a window to new dimensions.


In Conor Thompson’s paintings compressed and active fields of color shuffle in drifting planes. Appendages, architecture and points of perspective wrestle and dodge recognition. The images simultaneously invoke Philip Guston’s flattened cartoon gestures and the shifting figure-ground relationships explored by Giorgio de Chirico. Dynamic and still, the scenes operate independently from gravity and space of the physical world. The paintings create tension between expectation of action and liberation of form. There is pleasure and chaos in the visible.

Benjamin Reiss’ human scale sculpture, Automobile (2009-2012) exists as if it were a plasticized body. The static machine implies movement and function like a Rube Goldberg drawing, densely packed with seemingly idiosyncratic mechanisms. Gears in primary colors, circuits, a spool of yarn, wisdom teeth and pasta encased in resin, cartoon hands, a gelatinous steering wheel, IV tubes, squiggles of mustard, a headless chicken, and a sliced potato are fastidiously rendered in materials such as wood, plastic and plexiglass. The carefully articulated components attempt to reconstruct machine parts from manual texts and diagrams. Each element visualizes the artist’s interpretations of the machine and incorporates social, personal and historic narratives. Visceral and playful, the dense structure underlines the magic, danger, and potential of systems like the body and the machine.


Benjamin Reiss b. Los Angeles 1985, lives and works in Los Angeles. Reiss earned his BFA from The School of The Art Institute Of Chicago in 2007. Trained as an exhibition designer and fabricator at the Chicago Field Museum, Reiss has been engaging with complex sculptural practices both professionally and as an artist for over a decade. The time from start to completion of a single artwork can range from one month to several years.


Conor Thompson b. Boston 1983, lives and works in Los Angeles. He earned his BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2005. Thompson’s work has been included in group shows at Night Gallery, Cinders, and Tiny Creatures. Between 2008 and 2013 he taught studio art at the Crossroads School for the Arts & Sciences. He is currently attending the MFA program at the University of California Irvine.

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