While some works are vaguely corporeal, Celadon Green with a Broad Brush (2014) is perhaps the most suggestive piece on display, thanks largely to its ponytail of bristly grey hair that spews out of a round wooden spout. Fabricated from galvanized wire, cast lucite, papier maché, resin, acrylic paint, and computer generated and milled spalted marble, the piece is a mélange of materials and ideas. The bristles could be a paintbrush, but the overall form has a nautical feel, balancing natural and manmade, like a shell or an object that would sit well on the deck of a boat. It looks like it might have a function, and yet it clearly doesn’t, which is all the more satisfying. Like many of his works, it morphs as the viewer circles it—becoming more animated, more anthropomorphic, and like the rest of Newman’s work, indisputably more baffling.
“Works by John Newman” is on view at FRED.GIAMPIETRO Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut, Sep. 12–Oct 17, 2015.