Video Feature: https://vimeo.com/409538984 The paintings in Josiah McElheny’s 'Observation' series are abstracted depictions of the deep night sky, comprised of a dense accumulation of glass elements seamlessly inserted into a...
The paintings in Josiah McElheny’s "Observation" series are abstracted depictions of the deep night sky, comprised of a dense accumulation of glass elements seamlessly inserted into a wood-panel surface. At the work’s center is a cluster of micro-mosaic glass inspired by what the artist calls “early, strange abstract drawings,” renderings of the nebulae in the night sky that date from the late 18th to early 19th centuries. Conjuring seemingly-impossible visual effects, this work presents a circular observation window into another world—like something glimpsed from light years away through a telescope lens—composed of hundreds of thousands of glass points fused together.
The largest work in this series is comprised of seven different "Observations" in one large painting, pointing to both multiple perspectives and multiple worlds. The work is dedicated to singer June Tyson, who performed in the Sun Ra Arkestra from 1968 until her death in 1992. McElheny notes that the work is specifically inspired by her voice in the song "Somebody Else’s World (a.k.a. Somebody Else's Idea)," in which she sings about the painful alienation of our current world—built specifically to exclude many—but also of the possibility and necessity of finding, seeing, and creating worlds unlike our own.
Josiah McElheny: Observations at Night, James Cohan, New York, September 6 - October 23, 2019