“Extraordinary,” by Daniel Douke, is an exhibition that I attended at the Nevada Museum of Art. The media used for this installment included canvas stretched over wooded supports, acrylic pigments, and in some cases, bondo. The works in this collection feature life sized recreations of ordinary objects—objects that would not traditionally be constructed of canvas and acrylic paint. These works embody the artist’s critique of the consumerism of modern society, driven by media culture. What I found most unique about this collection of works, was not the hyper realism, but that Douke did not recreate pristine replicas of these objects. He created them with dents, smudges, and scratch that might be found in normal, every day wear and tear on this item in the real world.
One of the works in this collection that really caught my attention was called “Dow.” In this piece, Douke replicated a sheet of Dow brand foam insulation, such as might be found at any home improvement store. The realism of this recreation was precise enough that upon walking into the gallery, my first thought was that there was a real sheet of foam insulation leaning against the wall and that there was maintenance going on in that wing of the gallery. Upon closer inspection, I realized that this was a part of the collection. This piece drew me in because there were smudges, and imperfections painted into the design, such that it looked like it could have been scuffs of dirt from laying on the ground. There was even a small furrow in toward the bottom of the piece, like might happen from a bored child running a fingernail along the surface while in the store—If this were an actual piece of foam of course.
Another piece that caught my eye was called “Relay Mailbox with Declarations.” In this piece, the artist had actually recreated a postal service sized mailbox, and painted it to look as if some vagrants had covered it in bumper stickers. This piece was constructed using stretched canvas on a wood frame, acrylic paint, and bondo to harden the exterior. This was another piece that looked real enough that it could have passed easily as something brought in from the street.
One selection that failed to resonate with me, however, was called “Core.” This work was comprised of thirty-nine stretched canvases, which comprised seven units. These units simply looked like wooden boxes with swatches of color in them. The colors were in the middle of each box, so I feel they lacked compositional interest This work had the hyperrealism of the others in this exhibit, however it seemed a bit more obvious than everything else that It was contrived. I think another reason that I was unable to connect with the piece was that it was not so much a collection of easily recognizable objects, and it lacked some other tactile appeal of the previously mentioned pieces.
One thing that I found very pleasing about this exhibit was the tactile nature of almost everything. The hyper realistic style made me want to touch everything just to ensure it wasn't actually the real object that the work was based off of.