JOSHUA VAN DYKE
– ABOUT THE PROJECT
As a graduate of the prestigious Glasgow School of Art – known internationally as an incubator of contemporary art talent – Canadian artist Joshua Van Dyke has emerged as a wildly inventive conceptual sculptor. For the collection of work in his key exhibition Glory Days, Van Dyke deftly used repurposed skateboards, reshaping this simple youth-inspired technology into a compelling series of sculptures in the manner of old baronial hunting trophies. BCreative Consulting helped organise and market the exhibition and the exhibition essay opens up a conversation about the historical associations and allegorical value of Van Dyke’s trenchant sculptures.
” The faith in the skateboarding creed is something to consider. The “cultural path” – as one of its gurus dubbed it – that skateboarding took in the 1970’s forward can be sourced to a low-end southern California “slum”, the new Camelot, where a mostly male crew of kids founded a pastime that is non-authoritarian and non-hostile, and favours self-expression, co-operation and personal freedom. And the central tenet of skateboarding, its commanding impulse, is love: ‘We we’re doing it because we loved doing it’.”
– Barry Dumka
JOSHUA VAN DYKE
There were no animal trophies in the great noble houses of Britain or Europe in the 18th century – the Enlightenment would have turned a cold eye to such a brutal display of a primitive aesthetic. Trophies were an invention of the 19th century Romantic imagination, a glowering presence that served as status symbol, decorative prop and direct connection to an ancient ideal about glory. As a by-product of the hunt, they were a nobleman’s souvenir of an ancient rite-of-passage: the means by which he tested his mettle, the mystical core of his being. To the Victorian upper class – unsettled by the technological, industrial and popular remaking of the socio-political landscape – the hunt remained their last redoubt to prove the privilege of their worth. Fortified by ritual and impressed with pageantry, the hunt represented all that was good and Christian, medieval and mystical in an established order that linked nobility to the chivalry of the Middle Ages and all the way back to the myth and golden promise of the Holy Grail.
Where would we all be in our own lives without the long romance about that search for sacred purity and the transformative power of the sublime?
For his series of large-scale formalist sculptures in The Hunt, the Canadian artist Joshua Van Dyke is cunning in his appropriation of these mythic symbols which he welds to the need for freedom and glory in our own much troubled time. Using the simple technology of the skateboard, Van Dyke has fashioned a contemporary vehicle for metaphysical inquiry, a trick that contains the promise of a truth. Who knew a skateboard –the tarted-up toy of slacker youths everywhere – could carry the weight of history and the cultural expectations of myth. But Van Dyke’s found material is fashioned with a faith that deserves its full measure.
— (end of excerpt)
© Barry Dumka/BCREATIVE CONSULTING
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