Nicholas Kripal: Contrivance

Exhibit Dates: 
Sep 22, 2012 - Jan 6, 2013
E. Avery Draper Gallery


Nicholas Kripal’s concentrated, pyramid-shaped installation of elegant geometric forms recalls both a city and an obsessively organized archive. The body of work on display at the DCCA grew out of a project the artist completed for the Philadelphia International Airport, which featured objects inspired by the low relief, ornamental terra cotta tiles visible throughout Philadelphia. For his DCCA exhibition, the artist references past architectural decoration and contemporary disposable culture in conceptually hybrid ceramic sculptures made from molds of throwaway food containers from the 1920s to the present. Although evocative of jello, pudding, and cake, Kripal’s work most notably acknowledges the history of architecture and design. Inspired by Art Deco and Art Nouveau, Kripal also pays homage to the Beaux Arts architectural tradition of sculptural decoration that employs French, Italian Baroque and Rococo styles and realism. The black glazing alludes to stonewear clay of the 20th Century and Ancient Greek vases. 

Approximately 70 forms make up his bi-laterally symmetrical installation. The artist’s method of presentation alludes to banquet structures, centerpieces, and elaborate formal gardens. His custom-built table allows for a two-foot walk space around the gallery. “Over the past ten years one aspect of my studio practice has been an investigation of site-related/site-specific installations. Specifically, but not exclusively, I have placed sculptural installations within sacred spaces. I am interested in the history of the site, the religious rites that take place within the site, and the architectural iconography of the site.” Situated in a white cube gallery such as that of the DCCA’s Draper, Kripal’s ceramic forms seemingly resignify the art museum as a ritualistic space. 

-Maiza Hixson 

Gretchen Hupfel Curator of Contemporary Art