11 March - 22 April 2012



Room East is delighted to present “Black Medicine,” an exhibition of new work by New York-based artists Dave McDermott and Nick van Woert at 41 Orchard Street in New York City. The exhibition combines individual works of sculpture and painting installed on two floors of the gallery.

An opening reception for the artists will take place on Sunday 11 March from 6-8pm.

Nick van Woert’s imagery of self-defense maneuvers, silkscreened on massive sheets of steel are at once brutal and balletic. The two works on display, each consisting of four panels, are the debut of a series of unique works that van Woert is currently undertaking which, according to Black Medicine: The Dark Art of Death (1978), explores, “the ‘vital points’ of human anatomy for the purpose of disrupting the structure and physiology of the body in the most rapid and deadly manner possible.” For van Woert Black Medicine functions as a sort of anatomy manual, a comprehensive overview of the body. The ten foot long artworks, with appropriated details from the aforementioned text, reference Cady Noland’s silkscreened aluminum sculpture, while their inky, overrun imagery of physical violence resonates with Warhol’s epic Death and Disaster series. An additional wall sculpture by van Woert installed in the downstairs gallery presents a taxonomy of cast bronze tools, their archaeological narrative of positive use-function ends in the threat of their use as weapons.

Dave McDermott’s triptych of framed monochromes in the upstairs gallery, two of which feature several layers of nitrocellulose lacquer, the type used on guitar bodies and hotrod cars, is a study of the nature of altered consciousness via controlled substances. The central black panel is a section of tolex, a material commonly used on the surface of guitar amplifier cabinets. Downstairs, a trio of McDermott’s new paintings continues his ongoing study of figurative in-betweenness, that liminal state between physical stasis and the mental machination. These novel double-portraits, while bearing a formal resemblance to the jigsaw-cut assemblages of Jean Arp, are puckered profiles handmade from materials such as oiled wenge and zebrawood. On display in the gallery’s picture window is a work that McDermott designed for the exhibition that transforms Saul Bass’s iconic, lighting bolt-like appendage from the film The Man with the Golden Arm (1955) into a symbol of authority.