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A Shallow Wade

Dutch artist Ron van der Ende's salvaged wood sculptures depicting American absurdity

by Maggie York-Worth in Culture on 29 March 2010

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Dutch artist Ron van der Ende beautifully transforms pieces of found wood into inventive examples of bas-relief, creating sculptures that span the traditional church to a Nascar Charger. Van der Ende displays his labor-intensive works in a new solo show, "A Shallow Wade," currently on exhibit at Seattle's Ambach & Rice gallery through 2 May 2010.

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Exploring a "fractured American consciousness," works included in the show demonstrate the Rotterdam-based artist's concern for the disparate messages emanated by U.S. culture. For example, "Shotgun Shack Row" portrays an aerial view of houses from New Orleans' Ninth Ward, one of the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina. Seemingly viewed from a helicopter, the contorted angle reminds his audience that parts of the country still experience dread while others prosper, like in works such as "Taylor/Burton."

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A giant diamond constructed from hundreds of small pieces of salvaged wood and painted to reflect the myriad angles of the massive gem Richard Burton gave Elizabeth Taylor in the late '60s, "Taylor/Burton" represents the excessive nature of America's upper class. Eventually the bauble sold for over $1million, an idea that Van der Ende's sculpture calls into question with the humble materials pointing out the absurdity of spending such a lavish amount of money on such a frivolous item.

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Ironically, Van der Ende's "On Re-Entry" depicts a giant log with glowing embers beneath its charred surface, again created from recovered pieces of wood. Like the rest of his works, the log is comprised of copious amounts of thin veneers pieced together onto plywood for an overall stunningly complex relief.

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