The four-legged, six-legged and winged creatures depicted in Dennis McNett’s painted wood sculptures seem so alive that looking into their carefully notched and painted eyes from different angles can give the effect of different expressions. Even though these pieces don’t move–the stares are as solid as the wood into which they are carved–at “Temple of Wolfbat,” which opened Nov. 16 at Known Gallery, I could have sworn that the likenesses of Fenris (that’s Resurrection of Fenris above), the leopardsnake and the wolfbat each smirked, snarled, and winked at me on the several occasions when I passed through their space during the evening. They were eyeing peoples’ entrances and exits in and out of their namesake “Temple,” perhaps.
Wolfbat, the artist’s alter ego, is a reoccurring character with a mythological narrative, and the Temple of Wolfbat show was somewhat of a McNett retrospective, with skateboard graphics in the gallery’s back room, outstanding new pieces at the front door, and a thorough body of work in between — including two collaborative pieces with Swoon previously shown in Europe, wave carvings inspired by and for McNett’s spectacular July 2013 solo exhibition at Laguna Beach’s AR4T Gallery, and Temple of Wolfbat constructed of the very crates that shipped the majority of this work from Brooklyn here to L.A.’s Fairfax Ave.
The artist explained his Psychic Wolf, which guarded the entrance of the gallery and was the exhibit’s most impactful piece:
You know I am obsessed with wolves. This one in particular is more a spirit wolf that is between this world and the next. A protector and a messenger.
As with the wolf, McNett’s installations and sculptures are impressive for heightened intricacy in life-size scale. The Temple is built over a doorway, so gallery visitors walk through it to the back room to the display of McNett’s custom Antihero skateboard graphics. These prints are from as far back as 2006, and each is displayed with its corresponding lino cut. The Temple, like paint on a skateboard, is made for reaction followed by destruction (so go take a good look now, because pretty soon it won’t be here). Of the Temple’s symbols and patterns, the artist said:
The Temple is more an accumulation of different energies. All the patterns represent different types of energies flowing through it, around it and in every direction. It’s energy. It’s kinetic. A visual representation of kinetic energy. Nature is the perfect artist and portrays this better than I ever will.
Those who work at Known Gallery got the privilege of watching McNett build the Temple over the course of a week. The gallery’s Staci Gabrielli said:
I’m completely in awe of it because I saw him build it. When everything came here, it was all on the floor. Watching it take shape, watching him build it was an experience in itself.
Gabrielli, who calls McNett,
A really diligent, down-to-earth artist,
has followed his work for the past nine years, ever since she was introduced to it by a co-worker at Girl Skateboards. At the opening November 16 the gallery was full of people like her: people who have known and followed McNett’s art for years, ecstatic that one of their favorite longtime artists finally has the show they’ve been waiting for in the heart of L.A.
Dennis McNett: Temple of Wolfbat
Presented by Vans
Curated by Dante Ross
Nov. 16-30, 2013
441 North Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
The show came about because NY-based music producer Dante Ross (far right), who is friends with Known’s Casey Zoltan, has admired Dennis McNett (second from left)’s work for several years.
Another Temple close-up.
Black Witch Moth. The artist explained: “In South American cultures it associated with death and some parts bad luck.
In Jamaica it is considered a lost soul or soul not at rest. I prefer the Hawaiian lore which considers it
a loved who has passed revisiting this world and loved ones.“
Shown here by Stez, five limited-edition Antihero boards, made in runs of 20, were available at Supreme
on the night of the show’s opening.
Six pieces, from left: Rook, Bishop, King, Queen, Knight, Pawn.
Dennis McNett has previously exhibited in southern California at Thinkspace Gallery (a one-night solo show), at Copro Gallery (part of “Juxtapoz Turns 18” in 2012), and at AR4T Gallery (solo shows in 2012 and 2013). His work will appear with AR4T at SCOPE Miami Art Fair this December.