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Force, Fuse, Flower: Colin McIntyre’s “Circumnutation”

New metalwork show brings a few helical organics to Dimension Gallery – Austin Chronicle June 15, 2016

13442410_1331244306889987_888590144371514428_n“I love working with forms that defy the cold rigidity of the medium,” says the tall, bearded sculptor. And though he did that with Arboreal Passage, his lifesized six-tree arch that marks entrance to the Austin Nature & Science Center, even that Art In Public Places commission was more of a specific portrait-in-metal than he’s partial to.

“I prefer to embrace the power of lifeforms in a non-discerning fashion,” says McIntyre. “I’d rather capture the essence, the grace and beauty of lifeforms, and abandon the sort of representational artwork where you’re representing a particular species. I grew up steeped in science and aesthetics, and I have a real appreciation for science and the determining of species, the subtle variations. But I also like abandoning the whole speciation tendency, so instead of chopping and dividing everything, I go toward the bigger picture, the guiding forces of evolutionary adaptation.”

Which is what’s on display – beautifully on display – in Dimension Gallery’s “Circumnutation.” The sum of which display may be, as they say, greater than its parts. But, oh, there are many parts.

“In this body of work,” says the artist, “each piece is composed of individual elements – they’re all pendulous, hanging elements. And each component is kind of its own piece, and together they’re like chains.”

Like chains of being, maybe, especially as these chains are immutable – unless acted upon by heat and pressure equivalent to what McIntyre’s already expended in their creation? But, ah, now we’re getting tangled in our own chains of thought, influenced as we are by the Darwinian reference of the show’s title. (Note: Circumnutation is the term the estimable Charles used in 1865 to describe the motion of growing stems and tendrils).

To put it more succinctly: You know that thing that plants do, that curvilinear extension of themselves in space, the sometimes helical nature of their slo-mo kinesis? That blatant organic thing that sets them apart from inert matter? That’s what Colin McIntyre has captured, has rendered in cold dead metal.

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