Current Exhibition

John Colle Rogers: Pure War

Mar 01 2019 – Apr 19 2019

In his first solo exhibition at Pro Arts, John Colle Rogers’s “Pure War” explores our collective fascination with acceleration. From the condensed kinetics of the bullet, to the keen whine of a muscle car on the highway, Rogers uses metal and video to describe a trajectory riddled with adrenaline and the two-fisted desire to project the will ever outward. 

The “Strategic Critter Assembly” will be an array of small predators made from cast-off gun parts and forged copper and steel elements, the latter referencing historical arms, armor, and musical instruments. These elegant yet lethal-seeming little creatures inhabit a game board which is part bunker, part sculptural pedestal. Other works address the way we interact with the world through the interface of games and strategy.

“Shot Boxes/Shot Plates” are small works which have been shaped by bullets — shot at with a variety of rifles and pistols. These frozen instances of violence capture our morbid fascination with ballistics and the vacuums they create. Installed as a whole series, the pieces tap out a staccato lyricism. 

The exhibition also delves into our love of the muscle car. Through video and object he explores the lines and power which make up this essential part of American culture, and the open road which is its home. The slippage between firearm and adrenaline vehicle manifests itself in several works, the condensed identity of the metal going either way — accelerant, accelerator, accelerated… 

The combined narrative of these works is one of what philosopher Paul Virilio calls dromology — the science (or logic) of speed. As our attention spans become shorter and our cyber world runs faster and faster, we try to keep up, to ally ourselves with iconography of speed and power. The muscle car, the firearm, the knight’s armor. We hunger to keep safe and to protect ourselves from a world increasingly ensconced in a blizzard of info-shrapnel, constantly buffeting us with new anxieties. Rogers’ work confronts this tendency head on, a dead-reckoned collision course with our adrenal heart.

About the Artist

John Colle Rogers is a sculptor and blacksmith living in Oakland, CA. He received his BA in Japanese Studies from Earlham College, Richmond, IN, and an MFA from California College of Arts and Crafts. He supports his art with a metalworking business, creating fine railings and gates throughout the Bay Area.

Rogers’ work focuses on the uses and abuses of power on many levels. From the domestic realm, typified by the use of linoleum to skin a full-scale replica of a WWII tank, to the global, his investigation of our excesses covers many realms and media. He often uses the military as an underlying referent, with the layers of control implementation used as a stand-in for our constant desire to order the world around us, an activity which often can lead to violent ends.

He has called his work with firearms a mix of critique and indulgence. Work made with decommissioned guns looks hard at the seductive and destructive properties of firearms, drawing in historical references with Gothic armor references and blade elements drawn from various places and times. The “War Things” he made in 2002 and 2003 was the beginning of this work. A mix of forged steel and shotgun parts, both were reactions to the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. As someone steeped in military history, these forays into the maelstrom of the Middle East were a chilling foreshadowing of horror to come — the War Thing was loose again… The current work builds on those themes and adds a few new twists.