Charles Harlan, “Sailboat”

Art, Contemporary art
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Charles Harlan, “Sailboat”

Part maritime study, part vanitas, Charles Harlan’s second exhibition at JTT meditates on the subject of familial loss. The majority of the show employs parts of a Grampian yacht that was once owned by Richard Louck, the late stepfather of JTT founder Jasmin Tsou, who originally bought it in 1996. After Louck died in 2015, the boat remained docked near the Annapolis, Maryland, home of Tsou’s grandmother, until the house was sold, necessitating a decision on what to do with the slowly disintegrating craft. The answer, as shown here, was to repurpose it as art.

The boat’s prow and stern project from the floor of the gallery’s main room as if the rest of the hull were submerged somewhere else, while the cabin is mounted on the wall like one of Richard Prince’s car-hood sculptures. They’re all encrusted with layers of sediment in a simple but resonant metaphor for the ways in which memory and emotion adhere to well-loved artifacts.

In four companion works, Harlan contains and arranges tree branches, chopped wood and oyster shells using metal columns, stands and fencing, effectively commemorating Louck through his relationship with nature. In both groups of work, Harlan poignantly explores the capacity of objects to represent lives as they were lived and remembered.

By: Michael Wilson


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