Although the new solo show of Rogan Gregory 'Known Unknown,' opened last evening at R & Company is about constructing an environment, it is hard not to see that he started his career as a fashion designer. The exhibition is an impressive site-specific installation, immerses the three-story court of the gallery, and consists of biomorphic lights suspended from the ceiling on the top floor and all the way down 40 feet to the lower floor. The objects are lighting sculptures, reminiscent of sea life, or perhaps of parts of human body. They can be interpreted as 'cute' objects; or as blown cosmos; or as an organic process in creation; or as surreal creatures. The power of these objects is that they are not definitive and can be seen in many different ways, depending on the viewer and the setting. The key place of the narrative in contemporary design is the source of this approach, a typology of design which is an abstraction, and like any abstract art, does not represent a depiction or an idea, but rather relies on shapes and forms that result in 'effect,' requiring personal translation. This is how they allow the viewer to participate in the process of making. These objects represent contemporary, 21st-century design in other ways as well. Another typology of contemporary design that can be found in this body of work is the issue of materiality, which occupies this series. While as a sculpture, Gregory is known for working with wood, stone, and bronze (I saw what he has recently done in a garden design by Edwina von Gal), here, the sculptures are all crafted in a composite material that he creates at his studio in Amagansett. The monumental scale of the pieces is another aspect that corresponds to contemporary design, manifesting an illumination which is large, dynamic, and dominant. The exhibition opens through October 26th.
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