Come Together, Far Away
This June, contemporary American artist Sage Vaughn presents his debut show at Unit London. Using a wide variety of media including: painting, collage, installation, video and sculpture, Vaughn aesthetically challenges the border between the interior and the exterior.
For Vaughn, being an artist is a labour of merit. He believes he has the responsibility to expand our consciousness, our potential, and our ability to recognise the savage and beautiful world. Art empowers the viewer, instigates the process of discovery and does not merely depict the physical manifestations of reality but draws out the underlining complexities and richness of life. As Irwin has eloquently stated:
From parasitic mind-controlling fungi, to the bower- building birds of Papa New Guinea, the myriad of mechanisms Nature utilises for the survival of its constituents is both harsh and beautiful. It is the single unifying force shared amongst all living things, yet each devises its method to accomplish this incredible feat. Humans, as social animals, can achieve this process through collective means, forming their eco-systems of subsistence and connection; or can strike out individually, and persevere as a separate entity, discovering a path where others may follow.
This aggregate of possibilities sustains the contemplative headspace Vaughn maintains while working in the studio. In this new body of works, Sage Vaughn portrays various characters that have shown to epitomise the theme of survival. As the artefacts of his labour, the topiary-like monuments of these people simultaneously act as landscapes and portraits. By replacing the actual identifying aspects of the persons with a floral landscape, the pieces decompose the societal elements and ask the question: what will survive? Many interpretations of survival are illustrated within these specimens: The rodeo Clown who’s job it is to purely survive the charges of a raging bull, women who’ve escaped various genocides and civil unrest in the Congo, to the bones of Joseph Merrick.
Practitioners of the mystic arts, doomsday cults, and other collectives that exist on the fringes of civilisation signify experiments in communal outlier survival. These group beliefs are often simultaneously potent and extremely fragile. Vaughn uses a similar floral vocabulary to create a series of graphic symbols to reflect the various communal attempts at subsistence. These manicured visual eco-systems represent his meditations on the various esoteric groups who were able to survive, albeit briefly, outside of the confines mainstream thought.