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PALACE GARDENS: Martin Lang and Thomas Wharton

University of Dallas (UD) - Beatrice M. Haggerty Gallery

The Beatrice M. Haggerty Gallery at the University of Dallas presents PALACE GARDENS: Martin Lang and Thomas Wharton. Lang and Wharton investigate material, space, and symbol through a restrained aesthetic language. The artists are interested in the viewers’ movement through space and choose materials or perspectives that change as the audience moves around an artwork. Their work is both monumental and quiet, giving one the feeling of walking through a palace garden of vast organized partitions that are immensely detailed, intricate, and precise when examined with attention. 

Thomas Wharton is concerned with how light and shadow define physical space, and create illusions, reflections, and moods. Sculpted wooden “spindles,” used as sundials, are press fit into pedestals or other receptacles. These symmetrical objects reflect and diffuse light.  The resulting artworks are drawings, photographs, paintings, and sculptures that use a pared-down vocabulary of rectangles and circles. The tops of sculptures may appear as tangible objects floating in a reflecting pool or incorporeal circles of negative space. Images are repeated on multiple surfaces, and transposed in different media; sculpture to canvas, canvas to photograph, photo to charcoal, etc. Drawn and painted canvases encapsulate digital prints and re-represent light and shadows captured in photographs. Traditional oil paintings depict the same materials at different angles to provide asymmetrical snapshots of symmetrical compositions.  

Martin Lang’s work and research are driven by the question, just what is it that makes today's world so different, so appealing? He investigates the artist as persona, contemporary product fads, design and branding, text and language, and ego and identity. His work asks why objects, locations, and trends were created, why they hold importance in contemporary life, and how he as an artist, can exploit, twist, or manipulate them for his own intrigue. 

Lang’s work presents as foreign with an uncanny sense of familiarity. Wall-mounted, anodized aluminum panel structures, some installed with monitors and speakers, some with objects and artifacts, protrude from the wall. Laser etched into each of the panels are images and texts, found, invented, and appropriated from modern and contemporary paintings, sculptures, popular culture, and the artist’s life. The artist’s daily practice, art historical references, personal anecdotes, and hobbies all bubble to the surface in a stew of imagery held together by their metal substrate. 

Thomas Wharton (b. 1987) received his BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design in 2011 and his MFA in Painting from the University of Tennessee Knoxville in 2015. His work is included in many institutional collections including the Old Omaha Association Art Collection; Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA; and the Savannah College of Art and Design. Wharton has exhibited nationally at First Street Gallery in New York; GCADD in Granite City, Illinois; and Satellite Contemporary in Las Vegas, among others. He has been published in New American Paintings, Burnaway Magazine, and Numbers Inc. Thomas received numerous awards including a Fellowship at the Vermont Studio Center and the Sylvia Smith ’73 Artist in Residence program at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA. The artist currently lives in Omaha, Nebraska where he works as part-time faculty and the Assistant Director of the Kimmel Gallery at Midland University

Martin Lang (b. 1989) is an artist living and working in Columbia, South Carolina, and is an Assistant Professor of Art in Digital Media at South Carolina State University. He received his Masters of Fine Arts in Transmedia at the University of Tennessee and his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography with Honors from Webster University. Martin has exhibited nationally and internationally at Tiger Strikes Asteroid in Greenville, Tranzit.sk in Bratislava, and Sharp Projects in Copenhagen among others. He’s received a variety of grants and awards and has completed residencies with Arts Unfold in Toronto and with the Museumsquartier in Vienna, Austria. Martin also founded, directs, and programs the gallery My Friend Sparksburg in Columbia, South Carolina. 

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