Wall Street International Art: Utopia Muscle

by Meer

Drain’s first New York City solo exhibition in a decade, Utopia Muscle, is named after author Junot Diaz’s call to locate optimism through new activism and empowerment, by strengthening our “utopia muscles” in the face of fear and anger towards our current chaotic national condition. While this is Drain’s most overtly political exhibition title to date, it peacefully dovetails with his ongoing interest in how individualized and labor-intensive efforts—particularly in performance, painting, collage, and sculpture— can shape collective identity in a finished artwork.

First recognized as a member of the now-defunct but cult classic Providence-based music, video, and art collective, Forcefield, Drain became a highly skilled knitter to regally decorate his persona, Gorgon Radeo, in woven, densely patterned-attire that obscured his identity into an oblique character amongst other tribally inspired, knit-clad crew. Twenty years later, Drain’s practice has morphed exponentially: he spent a decade in Miami co-directing the artist-run space, Bas Fisher Invitational (now BFI); he has designed optically dynamic sweaters; he has made sculpture-as-furniture such as chessboard tables for parks; he has embarked on a public sculpture career, painting murals or recently installing a piece at Morocco’s U.S. embassy based on RISD student collaborations. All the while, Drain has also been exhibiting woven sculptures and collages that showcase his dedication to socially generous endeavors, talents with intricate textile invention, and genius eye for vital, zesty coloration.

Utopia Muscle features four sculptures that show how pleasantly amicable some disorientingly complex objects can be. Precision and arbitrariness commingle romantically here; recycled materials are transformed into mightily braided totems. 


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May 10, 2017