AN AUTHOR OF MYTHS
by Bernard Point
Joe Neill is a constructivist…
At a first glance this statement may seem true. However, it is not so simple as that and it is very surprising that someone would continue to hold such a point of vue. Joe Neill is a deconstructivist…
After looking for a second time the tangled path of each glance allows one to discover the complexity of the work. One finds a world of inextricable dwellings that encourage me to penetrate inside but at the same time forbids me to enter. These objects which are erected up to the limits of weightlessness appear to be strangely “turbulent”(1) like impossible scaffoldings used for a kind of architecture that could never be built.
These structures begin to twist outwardly(2) and away from their foundations before being able to support or shelter the smallest of constructed forms. Joe Neill appears to me as a builder of Piranese like prisons that enclose the eye of the viewer in their labryrinthine armatures that seem to be on the verge of collapsing. These spaces are dismantled in a way that the viewer is not able to be inside or outside but is asked to wait in front of them. After experiencing with amazement and magical discovery the poetic universe of the artist, little by little, this same universe begins to provoke a troubling sense of oppression. While looking into the interior of the pieces we are confronted with many barriers, which after crossing, reveal curious low reliefs on the walls. The construction of the work is organized in such a way as to create a centralized composition with a concave sphere at its core.
In contrast, the “entropy”(3) of the arrangement of elements disturbs the radiating structure through the use of an unbridled and unnatural disorder of tangled small pieces of wood. Thus, generating a high degree of disorganization hidden by a seeming appearance of order. The overlapping levels in each piece give the impression of being doubled by the shadows that are cast on the wall. These then surround the hollowed sphere in a mesh like pattern of forms. Distributed on the sphere is a proliferation of serpentine forms in collage that turn around a smaller sphere forming a miniscule magical eye. Joe Neill is a magicien from a cosmic universe whose center rotates on itself. It is at the heart of an illogical world that is governed by laws that he himself invents over and again in order to manipulate all of its possible contradictions. Along with the artists 3-dimensional work he makes drawings using precisioned sharpened color pencils. The elements used in these drawings ressemble a form of writing that uses as its focal point an infinitely small planet form. Once again I find the artist as a cosmic writer who interprets the seesawing movements of the universe by placing in space, translucide planes of graduated colors that are suspended in the vastness of a large white page.
Joe Neill is a deconstructivist and not an architect. Is he really a sculptor, if he puts up walls around empty space. With the exception of a few flashes of color that interrupt the space in front of us, he is rarely a painter. From the very beginning, he draws to make up his spider like spacial forms. He is without a doubt a writer who tells me incredible stories about Babel, which like the myth, will remain towers without an end.
Bernard Point – july 2000
Director of the Municipal Gallery of Gennevilliers