The West Philly collaborative workspace the Traction Company has been sprucing up its stretches of Haverford Avenueand 41st Streets with a revolving door – or rather revolving windows – of different artists’ large-scale work. Starting in early October, the windows will be home to the surreal, loosely narrative scrolls of Justin Duerr. The opening of this exhibit “Panoptic Story Scroll (unfinished cycloramic mind diagram)” also coincides with the Traction Company’s participation in the 2012 Philadelphia Open Studio Tours (POST) organized by the Center for Emerging Visual Artists (CFEVA).
Duerr’s scrolls are the things of mythology but also of history. Their darkish images remind us of ancient papyrus scrawled with the tales of kings and empires and gods. True to these archaic glyphs, the storytelling on the windows is highly visual and focuses on pictures, although there are small sections of story present along with other non-English symbols.
Everything the artist sees must be through the eyes of a mystic. Fractal patterns, floral motifs and spider web patterns cover much of what Duerr depicts, including the faces of some of his characters. All of the rest twirls amidst curling lines which meander like wind, sometimes fanning flames which lick up to engulf adjoining scenes. The black and white composition is striking, and helps the viewer to process the mélange without the intrusion of bright or extraneous colors. With a colorless palette, the ink drawings take on a somewhat somber tone, but diving into life, death and the exploration of one’s (sub)conscious existence, there is much reason to maintain an air of gravity.
For one weekend only, beginning on October 5th, the entirety of Duerr’s ongoing scroll project will be on view at the Traction Company. So far, the canvas – which is relatively consistent in width – stretches some 55 feet long. Duerr says he hopes to continue the project throughout his life, with the end result culminating in a lengthy expanse of drawings which connects back with the first. This unity and connectedness is a pervasive theme in the project and it seems like everything ultimately references back to itself in a sort of pen and ink feedback loop.
There will be a reception for the “Panoptic Story Scroll” on October 6th from 5-8 p.m. at the Traction Company. Traction Company members and alumni will be around all weekend for POST to meet with visitors, and Justin Duerr’s work will be on display as well. Be sure to head west on Saturday evening to catch the current progress on a perpetually unfolding story.
The Traction Company is located at 4100 Haverford Ave., Philadelphia; email@example.com; tractioncompany.com.