Using fabric and other found objects, Eric N. Mack creates richly textured compositions that collapse the boundaries between fine art, fashion, and architecture. The artist identifies as a painter working in the medium of fabric, although his works frequently move away from the walls to synthesize painting with sculpture. Mack’s first one-person exhibition at Paula Cooper Gallery will open on November 3rd, following the announcement of his representation in 2021 and his inclusion in four group exhibitions since 2020. In the past year, Mack has completed residencies at the Chinati Foundation, Marfa, and the American Academy in Rome, and his site-specific installation Sarong is currently on display at Palazzo Grassi, Venice, through January 2024 as part of the group exhibition Chronorama Redux.
The centerpiece of Mack’s forthcoming exhibition will be a mobile-like hanging structure suspended from the ceiling and draped with swaths of multicolored fabrics. Propelled by the idea of a classical fountain, the materials flow like water in a self-sustaining cycle. Regeneration is significant to Mack’s process, which breathes new life into overlooked materials gathered from Italian couturiers, international marketplaces, and the streets of Harlem where he lives, employing excess and scarcity in his accumulation and combination of disparate parts.
A series of abstract assemblages will adorn the gallery walls. Constructed and arranged by Mack, the works are paintings in found fabric that sustain the physicality of each material. Mack considers the collection of fabrics in each work to function like an archive, preserving and presenting his chosen materials while drawing attention to how they age. Fine silks, suiting, and graphic prints jostle and jive, taut in some places and gently curving in others¬¬, their relative softness and saturation, heft or weightlessness, complementing a wide spectrum of vivid color.
In a departure for Mack, the artist will also exhibit a closet-like sculpture hung with unique garments. Fashion has long been a universal entry point into Mack’s work, which engages the concept of a collection, repetition, and the fabrication and presentation of objects designed with the body in mind. Treading the line between painting and clothing, readymade and handmade, the garments and their closet enable Mack to re-establish his relationship to the culture of fashion, while energizing his artworks with the potential of an unknown wearer.