The Austin Chronicle

"Colin McIntyre: Systema Praeternaturae" at Dimension Gallery

The artist's sinuous, flowing forms of nickel-plated steel are part of a reminder that in the midst of life, we are in death, etc.

Reviewed by Wayne Alan Brenner, October 11, 2019, Arts

Disregard, just for a moment, the viscous and pulsating abomination rising from the very center of Dimension Gallery: We'll get back to that at the end.

(Yes – we'll all get back to that at the end, won't we?)

Instead, cast your vision around the edges of the intimate Eastside exhibition space, where stark pedestals hold further evidence of what blacksmith, sculptor, musician, and at-least-amateur naturalist Colin McIntyre can do with metal, heat, and pounding human force.

Here are thick lengths of worked and beaten steel, yearning upward in helical ribbons, presenting as some gene-level combination of kelp and eel, now frozen in time and lending a benthic beauty to the gallery's waterless heights. These are "Systema Praeternaturae," an extension of McIntyre's ongoing "Organism" series. Just plain gorgeous, all of it. "These works are inspired by taxonomy, the system in biology of classifying species based on their traits," say the show's notes, namechecking Carl Linnaeus. "These sinuous, flowing forms are forged in steel with the liquid metal sheen of nickel plate."

Well, most of the flowing forms are nickel-plated; there's at least one unplated specimen on display, its dark matte surface revealing what visuals obtain before things get all shiny and resemble a sort of oversized Tiffany & Co. collection co-curated by Jacques Cousteau and H.P. Lovecraft. (Note: That's a compliment.)

Speaking of Lovecraft ... go ahead, now: Look at the central piece around which the rest of this sinuous "Systema" orbits. Look at the vertical conglomeration of dessicated mammal skulls and vertebrae and odd bones and feathers and snakeskins rising up like some sort of diabolical shrine in the middle of the room. Get an uneasy eyeful of this intentional stalagmite of Osseous Refuse that's painstakingly arranged around a hidden central pipe – a pipe pulsing out a stream of dark oil that slowly floods its way down the bone-bedecked pillar, saturating those collected ruins and remains of terrestrial life until it fills the square pool of liquid darkness surrounding the abomination's base.

The artist Colin McIntyre is many things, but until I saw this new sculpture of his, I would've sworn that serial killer was not one of them. I mean, let's not jump to any conclusions; the man's got so much creative industry going on, he simply wouldn't have time to wage a campaign of stealthy, consecutive human slaughter in our fair city. And he seems like such a nice guy, too, right?

But what the fuck, dude? That Osseous Refuse would give David Cronenberg nightmares. Tom Savini would be taken aback – and then a little jealous. And I ... I want to see it again real soon.

“Colin McIntyre: Systema Praeternaturae”

Dimension Gallery, 979 Springdale #99, 512/479-9941
Through Nov. 30

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