"They Never Die They Just Go to Sleep One Day," showcasing Austin artist Scott Eastwood's latest series of illustrations and sculpture, is a study in mirrored imagery. Life and death are juxtaposed in a series of ink-on-paper drawings and culminate in a poignant installation that stands as the focal point for the exhibition.
Eastwood's pieces are large, and much of their strength comes from their size. His illustrations show complex images woven together: A bloody hand juts over a skateboard with a Lone Star can in the bottom right corner in Big Wheel, while the reverse image, Negative Big Wheel, maps out the original image's negative space in an intricate webbed fashion. The diptych Big Eye on Big Apple reflects both an eyeball and an apple juxtaposed against various ephemera, including natural elements and an inane clutter of materialism. Without the benefit of their size, these components would become lost amidst all the details. However, the illustrations are more engrossing in concept than in realization. While the nuanced minutiae are interesting to try and capture, it feels almost like a game of Where's Waldo? as you search through periphery doodles to undertake the entirety of the piece.
Eastwood's Time Machine is the most noteworthy component of the exhibition. Audiences are invited to peer into the darkness of Forever Mountain and are confronted with a rotating, glowing casket. Time Machine smoothly turns, flashing primary colors and emitting a low hum with its movement. The installation contains no pomp that would indicate enriched significance for the mausoleum. The facade of Forever Mountain is a smattering of gray, black, and white paint on cardboard and wood that render it somewhat unremarkable on first glance. It's only when you look inside that you see Time Machine, beautifully constructed and eerily soothing in its repetitive movement. The installation offers a glimpse of memorials of the future. In all its current grandeur, it could easily become commonplace as a means of burial. It is in this conceptual reconciliation that Eastwood succeeds: for what we revere in the moment quickly becomes the norm.
Eastwood aspires to synchronize life and death but seems to be caught up in the details of both, instead of creating an overarching concept about the transition from one to the other. While Time Machine and Forever Mountain stand as remarkable renderings of this ideology, Eastwood's illustrations feel oversaturated. The exhibition as a whole was a risky endeavor, and it will be interesting to see if Eastwood's work is able to garner attention for its content outside of the enthusiasm for MASS Gallery's newly established brick-and-mortar.
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