When Three is Company: Adam Liam Rose, Eric Rhein, and Zachari Logan
By ALEXANDRIA DETERS March, 2023
I knew I was going to love what I saw when heading toward Clamp after work on Friday night. What a title, The Edge of All Things. What does that even mean? Is it the edge of the beginning or is it the edge of the end? Or is it complete surrender to the unknown?
The works by Zachari Logan, Eric Rhein, and Adam Liam Rose contemplate this statement in the three-person exhibition “Edge of All Things” on view through March 4, 2023 at CLAMP, New York, NY. How did these three queer male artists, ranging in age, beginning with Rhein (b.1961), followed by Logan (b. 1980), and finally Rose (b. 1990), come together to form this show? It starts with Canadian artist Logan, who was originally supposed to have a solo show at CLAMP. Instead, he asked, and was allowed, to bring into being a conversation with two other artists whose work he admired. Why would Logan do this? An artist willing to give up a solo show opportunity to not just share a space with one artist, but two! Well, it seemed obvious to me, because it’s the queer thing to do. To constantly give to your community, chosen family- wanting every member of it to succeed as much or even more than you - it's so…queer. Being a part of the queer community can be likened to being a part of a large family that wants you to succeed just as much as they want to.
In addition to the unique way this exhibition came about; Rhein, Logan, and Rose were all present for the install, (if you have ever worked in a gallery you know how tedious/nightmarish this can be). Rather than it being painful with one trying to outshine the other in placement, they instead, focused on best placements for the works as a whole and what having them displayed together meant.
Often artists prefer a solo show, possibly a two-person, but three? What an odd number (literally!). Yet rather than any one artist outshining the other, there is balance, a visual rhythm when walking through the show. All three artists grappling with corporality, the ideas and politics around time and memory- whether spatial, imaginary or real. Rhein and Logan both explicitly deal with nature as the main conduit of expressing their relationship with memory, how they understand the world, their own bodies and their place in it.
The idea of memory and remembrance is fascinating, because over time, what we remember becomes idealized, as our minds shift perspective and recollections fade or transform. We tend to be biased to the good, when looking back. I encountered these emotions with Logan’s monumental Three Summers, 2022, a landscape, on what appears to be the edge of a lake is drawn in blue with a slightly smaller than life-size shirtless self-portrait of the artist done in blue pastel. This storybook landscape slowly fades out into separate cloud-like forms, reminding me of warm steam or fog, the memory of three summers softening over time. Logan’s drawing, paradoxically gives me the sense that I could catch it’s reverie in my hands, but just like steam, slips right through. Overlapping the leafy blue haze are strewn flowers all drawn from Logan’s memories, in color; clipped or unearthed- but still vibrant in tone.
Disparate life experiences separate these men- yet they all seem to reflect and echo each other. The emotion, feeling of the temporality of life, and the question: is someone ever really gone if they are remembered?
During the AIDS epidemic the acceptance and realization that you were queer, was also accepting the reality that one day you may very well become HIV positive. Death was next to you in every encounter, every spark of romance, one was going to have to be prepared- there was no choice.
Of course, death is at hand for us all at any moment, whether cancer, getting hit by a car, or old age. With the AIDS epidemic, one may have seen this disease as being synonymous with being gay, which for some resulted in making a declaration of sexuality as not a celebration of self-acceptance, but rather an announcement of a death sentence. For many, it wouldn’t be a matter of if, but when. Often at this time, after a prognosis, it was just a short matter of time until death.
Rhein saw this reality come to fruition. His own experience surviving AIDS and seeing others similarly diagnosed, made him keenly aware of the fragility of life- and the importance memory plays in individual and collective continuance. That often, the most precious and beautiful aspect of our existence is it’s temporality. The evidence and memory of peers, lovers and family remains through objects and the retelling of memories - saying names. Rhein ritualizes this name telling with the creation of wire leaves, each representing a life.
The meaning of mortality is ever present in the works of these three men. While each may use different mediums, the sublime weaves through all the works, connecting them. Rose, evokes with his eerie graphite drawings, worlds that explore the biomorphic and geographical in a seemingly diagrammatic way. These are bodily, evoking a slight nervous pit in your stomach dread. Are we looking at a beginning or an end, or rather, is this the flux of both. I can’t help but recall while looking at Rose’s cone-shaped tunnel form in, Stages of Fallout (expanding universe), 2022, my own imaginings of teleportation.
The joint curation, support and thoughtful placement of work in conjunction to a conversation was throughout, but it was in the backroom where the show came full circle for me. Rose’s The Kiss, 2023, two voids, two unknown potentials is placed center on the wall, nestled between works by Rhein and Logan. Rhein’s Cave Branch (self portrait), 2010, an encased nude, black and white self-portrait where he focuses a gaze of memorialization on himself- by doing this he turns the remembrance into a continuance, a simple, I am here, I am now; a celebration of his continued life.
Cascading from the ceiling, Logan’s site-specific work of hand drawn graphite silhouetted flowers slowly fading into nothing behind Roses’s The Kiss, reminding us of the beauty and temporality of this life.
Leaving the show, that wall with those three works glows in my mind’s eye. In this visual embrace their message is clear, the memories we chose to remember and retell, the chances we take, our past, our present, and our future, is in constant reflection within the realities we inhabit the edge of. WM
Edge of All Things:https://clampart.com/2022/12/edge-of-all-things/#thumbnails
Adam Liam Rose: https://clampart.com/2022/12/adam-liam-rose/#thumbnails
Alexandria Deters (b.1992, San Jose, CA) is a Bronx, NY based embroidery artist, writer, archivist, teacher, and fine art appraiser. She received her BA in Art History and Women and Gender Studies at San Francisco State University in 2015 and her MA at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, NY in 2016. In 2021, she completed the Comprehensive Appraisal Studies Program (CASP) at the Appraisers Association of America a (AAA), NY; and is a recognized Associate Candidate of the AAA. Her writing has appeared on filthydreams.org, upmag.com, eazel.net, POZ.com, and Cultbytes.com.
Photo by Jackson Siegal, 2023.view all articles from this author