Alchemist Suite555 12th St.
The artwork of Oakland-based artist Ernest Jolly explores the relationship between organic forms and manmade structures in shape, sound, and light. In Alchemist Suite each piece begins with a simple substructure of common building materials, such as concrete, wood, wire, insulation foam. Through complex surface treatments, Jolly creates an illusion of fragile delicacy that appears almost organic. The familiar cone shape repeated throughout the work has associations with biology and astronomy – a shell, a pinecone, cells of the retina, or the Cone Nebula of distant outer space. The shape is also reminiscent of manufactured objects such as funnels, megaphones, phonographs, and early hearing aids (several of the sculptures are amplifiers!). Jolly, working in collaboration with musician M. Chris Evans, composed an abstract score combining the sounds of wind and waves with various industrial and urban noises. A significant factor in the conceptual narrative of the work is the tension between the manmade character of each sculpture and the references to the natural world they embody. As Jolly explains, “I’m attempting to use these materials to create another material existence.” Alchemist Suite is Jolly’s meditation on the process of transformation. The viewer is invited to determine the realm in which this transformation takes place.