For more than a decade, David Scanavino has explored the ubiquitous vernacular of the institutional—the run-of-the-mill, nondescript architectural features of pedestrian spaces that don’t stand out; the interiors of public schools, city libraries, state hospitals, and bureaucratic agencies. These impressional yet indistinguishable interiors are the impetus and inspiration for Scanavino’s sculptures, works on paper, installations, and wall-relief paintings.
Scanavino asks us to think about how we relate to built space, especially the uninteresting but unmistakable institutional places we (un)willingly occupy. He transforms the architecturally “insignificant” and the seemingly inescapable into something seductive, something playful, something appealing, something unexpected—activating the space by using unassuming, inexpensive, manufacturing and preschool art supplies, vibrant construction paper, and Elmer’s Glue.
At The Aldrich, Scanavino debuts a site-specific floor sculpture and a monumental wall relief, turning the South Gallery into both an experiential installation and engaging platform for interactivity. Imperial Texture (2014) spans the floor and scales four walls, making it feel as though the viewer has walked into a gigantic immersive abstract painting or virtual video game. Using multicolored 1 x 1 foot linoleum tiles, Scanavino conceives what at first emerges as a dizzying arrangement that generates a tantalizing optical sensation. As the floor tilts upwards onto the walls, it challenges the viewer’s dimensional perception, offering an intensified sensorial experience about body, site, and spatial conformation.
But even more significant for Scanavino is the looming presence of noted influencer Richard Artschwager, who also famously used household commercial materials such as Celotex ceiling tiles and Formica to create “hybrid” objects—like Pyramidal Object (1967), situated immediately outside the South Gallery as part of the Museum’s 50th Anniversary exhibition, Standing in the Shadows of Love.
To intensify the viewing experience, Scanavino also introduces Peacock (2014), an animated wall relief crafted with a colorful construction-paper pulp-and-glue blend that has been applied by hand directly onto one of the gallery’s walls. Formed over three eight-hour days, the pulp was pre-mixed in the studio using a household blender and arrived in color-coded buckets.
Scanavino’s works allow us entry into a mind that pulsates with color and throbs with pattern, stimulating us to rethink our relationship to the everyday elements orbiting us: the floating shapes in an indigo sky, shadows hopping across a glowing ceiling, and the rainbow hues that refract off a dewy window pane.
Curated by Amy Smith-Stewart.
David Scanavino was born on 1978 in Denver, Colorado, and lives and works in New York.