Jeff Bailey Gallery is pleased to present Awakened in the Peaceable Kingdom, an exhibition of new drawings and sculpture by Jon Rappleye.
The exhibition’s title is inspired by Edward Hicks’ (1780 – 1849) series of paintings, Peaceable Kingdom, where the worlds of nature and humankind coexist symbolically in a peaceful idyll. Hicks’ vision was reverent and hopeful, but tempered with concern for the darker and destructive impulses of both animal and man.
Rappleye’s drawings feature abundant and extraordinary groupings of animals, birds and plant life. There are no humans. Birds and animals are combined into new, unfamiliar creatures. In In the Quiver of the Kingdom, a proud peacock towers over an ashen landscape with stormy, jewel-toned skies. Volcanoes rumble in the distance. Birds fly frantically about, while some have died. An omniscient owl gazes at the scene that suggests the end of one era, and the unknown beginning of another.
In Awakened in the Peaceable Kingdom, a heron’s body has the head of a deer. It nears a ravine, where a large rabbit looks on. The head and wings of an owl are adjoined to the body of a frog, large mushrooms teeter, and an owl with antlers perches idly.
The exhibition features an owl with antlers cast in china, surveying these vast panoramas. A pile of china antlers, multi-colored and flocked, lies in a tangle of wires and plastic tubing on the gallery floor.
Like fairy tales, in Rappleye’s drawings and sculptures there is an air of magic and unreality to familiar things. Will nature ever become this perverted and strange? As animal and bird species die, evolve or are destroyed, what will take their place? What are the ramifications of an ever increasing human population and technology on the natural world?
In Nightwood Bloom, a stoic deer has lost one of its antlers, in what appears to be a natural process. Yet the head of the deer sprouts a wire, which had been connected to the antler. The deer appears healthy, and perhaps, against unknown forces, will survive.
This is Jon Rappleye’s second exhibition at the gallery. His solo exhibition, Out of the Silent Planet, is on view at the Jersey City Museum, New Jersey, through August 12. Upcoming solo exhibitions include, Strange World, at the Salina Art Center, Salina, Kansas (fall 2007) and the Clough-Hanson Gallery, Memphis, Tennessee (early 2008). He was recently an artist-in-residence at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, where he made the cast china sculptures featured in the exhibition. He lives in Jersey City, New Jersey.