The Works, the current exhibit at the RNG Gallery may look a lot different from the outside. At first glance, it looks as if somebody assembled a bunch of farm tools and slapped them on the wall. If you look in the window, it becomes apparent that an artist was behind this and that somebody thought this out very carefully. Stepping inside, it’s evident this took intense time and thought.
Artist Paul Konchagulian seems to have used just about every tool you’d find on a farm. For example, the section of “saws” seems to imply that Konchagulian took a collection of saws, disassembled them then welded them back together matching different pieces up. “Dead Totem Saw” features very jagged edges and sports a Tim Burton meets Cinco de Mayo look. “C-Saw” looks like somebody is shooting a gun. Maybe Konchagulian meant no deep meaning, but several of his works such as “C-Saw” seem to hint on more than face value.
The next set of tools Konchagulian used were rakes. In “Pitch Perfect” Konchagulian stuck a rake right to the bottom of a wood podium. The rake is stuck in a vertical drift for the rest of its life, but something about the way Konchagulian has it displayed makes it feel like the rake is almost…..stuck, waiting for animation.
In another work, Konchagulian took off the rake part from the wood and connected three rakes together at the tip of the handle. They spanned out in three directions. He did not change the paint, but it almost felt like motion was implied.
Maybe being “stuck” could be a recurring theme in his work. It could make sense because his mediums all come from farms, which are in the middle of nowhere and could beg for some direction to the nearest big town, which in the Midwest is about eight hours to….Chicago.
However, there are doors hanging from the ceiling. A lot were painted white, but many had cracking paint and looked vintage. Most had just the frames with a lot of the door left open, possibly symbolizing opportunity and freedom? Regardless, they added a nice touch that hopefully everybody noticed! Everybody needs to remind to look “up” at this show.
Konchagulian’s next take was using old trays. Many were silver, some were tarnished and others were very retro looking because they were decorated with old, curly flowers around the edge. It looks like he took us from the old days where a Civil War meal may have been eaten on the tray to today where it may just have dwindled to a decoration.
Next we have pots that were vibrantly painted with bright colors. The artist must have done a lot of hunting to find a variety of shapes, sizes and designs. He took out the bottom of the pots and created cutouts such as the creepy top-hat man that was a repeating theme in his works as well!
Konchagulian found a wood table but replaced one of the front legs with a wheel. Is he asking us to question traditional uses for objects and hoping we think outside the box? Or did he just think the table needed some new parts?
His shovels definitely gave feelings of everything along the spectrum from foreboding to playful. The metal is cut so well! “Dead Bunny Shovel” is playful despite its name. Konchagulian changed the blades on all of his shovels to fit some image, character or description. The bunny has the same cartoon-like style, but doesn’t make you feel scared.
So, basically instead of a full-panel blade, he carved and cut the shape of a bunny with many open spaces to interact and put your hand through. However, this exhibit is probably best done hands-off, but you almost do want to touch his intricate work.
“Death Shovel Mask” is more ominous with its skull image. Again, this plays on Day of the Dead meets creepy cartoon, but it works so effectively.
In the show there was everything from rakes, saws, pot, trays and shovels on the walls to doors hanging from the ceiling. Konchagulian also placed some items on the floor as well as the table with a wheel for a leg. The menacing top-hat guy with sharp teeth for a smile seemed to be riding around on little cars against the wall. His arms even reached out implying motion and the chase! Konchagulian’s show was very thought provoking and featured mediums that were used together and on their own. Traditional use was challenged and so was the viewer’s perception.
The Works continues through September at RNG Gallery in Council Bluffs, 157 West Broadway, next to Dixie Quicks Café. For further details go to dixiequicks.com.