Sculptural Puppeteer: A Review of Alex Chitty’s “Figs break open of themselves” at Patron

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Sculptural Puppeteer: A Review of Alex Chitty’s “Figs break open of themselves” at Patron

Alex Chitty, “Lifelong Conversations Between Women,” 2022. Fused ceramic bowls, pelicans from a hotel ashtray, ipe wood, black oxide-plated steel, brazed copper

Patron is the home for Alex Chitty’s ecosystem of wall-based sculptures and photographs in “Figs Break of Themselves.” Chitty, the sculptural puppeteer of sublime composition, creates invigorating pieces by combining familiar objects in unfamiliar ways. The objects are mainly obtained from inside the house, comfortable and safe, and synthesized with each other through their positioning. Relying on texture and form, surprising combinations of materials amalgamate within the sculptures, and the photographs provide a two-dimensional plane to rest within.

Alex Chitty, detail of “Beautiful and Menacing and Slightly Out of My Control,” 2022. Cherry wood, cotton bands, carved wooden bananas, fused plastic cups, powder coated steel, 26 1/4 X 24 1/2 X 4 inches

“Figs Break Open of Themselves (I, II, III)” (2020-22) serves as the footnote to the exhibition, providing a home base to which each additional piece can return. The triptych is filled with elegant gestures and introduces the physical object as a form of marking that can be found throughout this body of work. The frame is expansive and balanced, punctuated by surprising moments of allure, such as a gold chain reading “Name” hanging from the top right corner, or the small Donald Duck figurine nestled in a hole in the wood . Most interesting is what can be recognized as the back of a photograph attached to the back of the wooden boards, with the image facing the wall. Whether the image exists or not cannot be confirmed because there is no angle, no matter how hard the viewer turns their neck at which it can be seen. This exhibition’s particular artist-to-viewer relationship is established through this detail, and Chitty launches as the thoughtful orchestrator to walk the line between stubborn discussion and overreveal, remaining serious and making fun.

“Yesterday was so Pretty” (2022) demonstrates Chitty’s masterful ability to create visually sound compositions, relying on the depth and textures of objects and deliberate marks, and then breathing life into them. The bleached oak plank creates a clean plane as a stack of six circles descends down the left side. Two painted wooden oranges rest gently on the right side on a small steel shelf. Although this pewter coat adds a surreal element to the fruit, the oranges are animated by their positioning, leaning lightly on another in a moment of repose.

Alex Chitty, “Like a Mule Through Honey,” 2022. Porcelain bowls, spoons, cast concrete, plastic horse, copper, honey dropper, various woods, cotton furniture, powder-coated steel, 40 3/4 X 31 1/2 X 8 1/2 inches

The wall-based images are made with familiar materials that rely on maintaining their honest form, but the combination of objects camouflages that familiarity for a split second. In “Like a Mule Through Honey” (2022), a rectangular wooden frame houses thick strips of cotton fabric, which protrude outwards through wooden and copper pins woven through. The central dowel is a honey dropper, its head protruding from the dust on the right. This sends the viewer’s eye in a zigzag down to the small platform extended from the lower left of the frame, holding a plastic horse figurine, and to its final resting place, a mint green bowl at the bottom. The resulting sculpture is stabilized and gratifying. The piece is activated by the imagined stream of honey, sticky and slow, seeping from the dropper. “Like a Mule Through Honey” (2022) is an extreme example of Chitty’s ability to see objects encountered on a daily basis for what they are, and to present to the viewer what they could be.

Alex Chitty’s “Figs Cracking Open of Themselves” at Patron, 1612 West Chicago. On view until January 28, 2023.

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