Heironymus Box, Bronze, 2008, by David Middlebrook

David Middlebrook Shows at MAC ART GROUP in Miami
By Erin Goodwin-Guerrero

David Middlebrook continues to develop the theme — the defiance of gravity — that has appeared in his work in recent years in his exhibition at the new MAC ART GROUP in the Wynwood Art District of Miami, in December 2008. His investigations become especially intriguing with the challenge of levitating materials as heavy as bronze or big plaster forms and objects radically off-balance.

David Middlebrook’s Point in Time is precariously perched.

In recognition of the feat of flying creatures, Middlebrook creates bird heads that are like great fossil finds. They are frozen in the middle of acts that suspend them in air and give them the posture of life. The scale of their prehistoric beaks suggests fearsome preditors, albeit with tiny skulls to house tiny brains. Indeed, Middlebrook’s exhibition title, Basal Instincts, is a playful take on the Basal Art Fair, Basic Instincts and fundamentals that do not seem to require much thought: they are such given truths. He defies the basic truths of gravity with his weighty forms, angularly poised, immobilized in space.

The postcard reproduction for Basal Instincts uses the humorous juxtaposition of an enormous bird head (a great beak attached to eye sockets and the hint of a skull), and a quilted moving pad (cast in aluminum) hanging from the tip of his beak. The work’s title is also typical of his light-hearted approach: The Uncover Up

The Uncover Up, 2006

Middlebrook also likes to play with the ironic fragility of the bird’s egg. The eggs are large, in some cases balanced solitarily on top of other forms. In Hieronymus Box, one erect egg is precariously perched on the upper corner of a weakened and distorted cardboard box. Another work, The Rise and The Fall. is a collection of eggs tenuously perched one on top of the other, the stack leaning to one side, at exactly the moment in which they must crash. The vulnerability of an egg and the brevity of flight speak subtly to the mortality of the individual and the transient nature of entire species.

The Rise and The Fall, 2008, Eggs of marble, bronze and aluminum, by David Middlebrook: A comment on the fragility of species?

Another theme that Middlebrook explores involves mysterious bundles and crates such as we might see strapped to the bed of a big flat-bed rig going down the highway. Somehow they escape their confines and magically float off over the earth dragging their straps along the ground behind them. Pieces such as Bound and Determined create a wonderful sense of magic with illusions of great weight suspended in air. They confound our acceptance of possibilities.

Bound and Determined levitates.

Many of Middlebrook’s constructions like to play with the mix-up and juxtaposition of materials: a stone or a chunk of firewood cast in bronze, a cast aluminum towel, a cast bronze branch and, again, the eggs made of bronze. These works are part of the MAC ART GROUP show as well, but for my tastes the works that explore illusions associated with the pull of gravity are the most fascinating.

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