One of Seattles most talented contemporary artists, Isaac Layman (b. 1977), at the Frye Art Museum
through January 22, 2012. In his first solo museum exhibition, Paradise, Layman expands his practice of constructing large-scale, psychologically charged, photographic-based visions of the spaces and objects found in his Seattle home.
Curated by the director of the Frye Art Museum, Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker, Paradise includes more than twenty new photographic constructions created especially for the exhibition. Laymans most recent constructions, small-to-epic photographic re-orderings of objects, tools, materials, doors, windows, surfaces, and debris in his home, explore the shared cultural desire to fabricate escapes, destinations, and monuments and examine the role discontent plays in driving the need to create imagined perfection.
The paradise for which we often long, Layman believes, is the imagination and its projections; it represents artificial perfection. While it is the equal and opposite of confusion and disappointment, it would take the latter to imagine the former. Paradise always includes the heartache that came, that had to come, before that imagined perfection.
Laymans photographic constructions and objects address, according to the artist, fundamental concerns in finding or fabricating meaning in life: Why are we here? Are we alone? How do we find a sense of whole while discerning difference? What are the difficulties and rewards of being alive?
Accompanying the Frye Art Museum exhibition an 80-page, fully illustrated catalogue documenting Laymans paradise. It includes a conversation with the artist on his practice and essays by Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker and Seattle-based poet and author Doug Nufer. Almost all of Nufers fiction and poetry is based on formal constraints. His essay on Layman is largely a multiple parentheses constraint similar to one used by Raymond Roussel in his literary masterpiece New Impressions of Africa (1932). Like Isaac, Nufer observes, Roussel confined himself to his room while touring paradise.
In recent years Laymans work has garnered increasing attention across the United States and earned reviews on National Public Radio and in leading journals such as Artweek and Art in America. His photographic constructions are included in the collections of the Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Fla.; the Seattle Art Museum; the Tacoma Art Museum; and numerous private collections including the Margulies and Monsen collections. Layman received the Seattle Art Museums prestigious Betty Bowen Award in 2008.
Isaac LaymanParadise is organized by the Frye Art Museum and curated by Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker.