Review: Mark Dion tackles extinction in his art

Mark Dion will make chart-like drawings and boxed-display sculptures of artifacts that to begin with seem to be demanding accumulations of scientific knowledge. Ostensibly they’re a sign of human progress — but maybe not.

A cloud quickly kinds about the collected facts. At Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, where the New York-dependent artist is obtaining his to start with solo presentation in the gallery’s Los Angeles house, points swiftly switch grim.

For case in point, a specific timeline of a pair hundred decades of human heritage is merged with the very prolonged line of undulating vertebrae in a extensive skeletal rendering of a Plesiosaur, a huge marine reptile extinct for approximately 66 million many years. Epic historic events like the Furisode fire, which ruined two-thirds of Japan’s funds town Edo in 1657, killing 100,000 people, or the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, which set the stage for Russia’s existing blood-soaked war in Ukraine a few many years later on, instantly seem to be puny in the more substantial scheme of planetary passages. The entire drawing, which Dion executed on intentionally stained and yellowing paper, is also an emblem of its individual eventual demise.

Ars longa, vita brevis and all, but superior luck with that. As temperatures rise, time is functioning out either way. Welcome to “Theater of Extinction,” as the artist has titled his clearly show of 4 the latest sculptures and a lot more than a dozen new drawings.

A flamingo, which might be possibly a taxidermy fowl or a plastic a person plucked from an unsuspecting front yard, stands in a trashcan stuffed with junk, protected in oily black goop. A meticulously cataloged and arrayed “Cabinet of Maritime Debris: East Coastline/West Coast” turns an aristocratic 17th century cupboard of curiosities on its head, reworking a showcase of exotic wonderment into a stolid inventory of dismay. In a skeleton drawing of a galumphing, prolonged-long gone dodo, a litany of bodily and emotional states, together with guilt and yellow bile, is interwoven with makes an attempt to cope — witchcraft, too a great deal sexual intercourse, sturdy creativity and extra.

Collisions of scale are essential in this article, as the vivid, personal current tense of viewership crashes into pictures joined to vast, timeless dissolution. Dion provides neither wrong hope nor despondency, just difficult-nosed resolution. The tone is precisely right.

Review: Mark Dion tackles extinction in his art

Mark Dion, “Tar and Feathers,” 2019, mixed media

(Christopher Knight/Los Angeles Instances)

In which: Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, 1010 N Highland Ave.
When: Closed Sunday and Monday. By way of May possibly 25.
Get hold of:, (323) 380-7172