September 10 — October 15, 2022

Afar Tree

J.C. Fontanive



Conduit Gallery is honored to announce a solo exhibition of new work by Brooklyn-based artist J.C. Fontanive.

Movement, cinema and mechanics are a common thread J.C. Fontanive’s work, spanning various mediums – from kinetic machines and animations to carved wooden reliefs. He is inspired by the dialogue between man-made and natural processes, such as industry, movement found in the complexity of city streets, the way leaves fall, or how a tree is structured; each informing the other.

The wooden wall-sculptures in Afar Tree are born from a progressive dance between 2D and 3D processes. Fontanive ‘builds’ his drawings, creating the lines of metaphorical beams and rafters, structures scaffolded against gravity. By rotating the page while holding his stylus hand still like an indexing mechanism, he carves lines at precise intervals. Conversely, he ‘draws’ in wood, delineating curves with the bandsaw and mark-making with the metal plane. The repertoire of line and shape learned from the page guide the chisel or saw. The imaginary logic of flatness is used to create 3-dimensions.

The result is a series of work formed like puzzles - corresponding edges aligning to create a larger form. Metaphorically they are an attempt at piecing together the visual language that connects us all. Why do certain combinations of line, color and shape remind us of parts of our lives, the cosmos, the deep sea, Stonehenge - or a memory or feeling we had years ago? It’s the language of the enigmatic world that they are trying to solve.

Says Fontantive: “When you work with materials, you understand how physics and the physical world works. You by default get closer to the logic of the designing force of nature, the ultimate architect - coming from millions of years of evolution. You then become a part of nature and are influenced by the vast source of how the visual world behaves. So, it’s a lifelong investigation, and the reward is that you become part of nature, gaining access to glimpses of this other world that is not yet understood. The artist becomes like a space explorer bringing back strange moonrocks from another planet.”

In addition to Afar Tree, Fontanive will mount an installation of editioned kinetic sculptures in the Conduit Gallery Project Room. These moving prints marry his interests in mechanics and automation with his fascination for insects and birds. Fontanive found inspiration in Victorian clocks and other antiquated mechanisms while earning his MA at the Royal College of Art, London. In his “Ornithology” series, the artist animates archival inkjet prints of various birds, generating movement with a meticulously hand-tooled motor that flits through the images like a wall-mounted flipbook.

J. C. Fontanive was born and grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and received his BA from Syracuse University, and an MA from The Royal College of Art, London. His work has been shown at Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, The Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, Monash University Museum of Art, The Oliver Ranch Foundation, Columbus Metropolitan Library, The Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Gulbenkian Foundation, Tyler Museum of Art, Museum Meermanno Huis van het Boek, The Hague, The Nassau Museum of Art, Limerick City Gallery of Art, Ireland, The Center for Book Arts, The Contemporary Art Society, London, among others. Fontanive won the 2018 Brooke and Hap Stein Emerging Artist Prize, MOCA Jacksonville and The Desmond Preston Drawing Prize, The Royal College of Art, and has also been awarded the residency at The Marble House Project, VT. Fontanive lives and works in New York, NY.

Artists in this Exhibition

Artist Video