James Harnois

MadArt rewards repeat visits. The concrete-floored gallery in South Lake Union challenges each artist it hosts to radically transform the space, making it virtually unrecognizable from exhibition to exhibition.

I was reminded of this upon entering Ian McMahon's Aperture at MadArt recently, feeling transported to another space entirely. McMahon is a sculptor based in New York who creates impossibly suspended forms using plaster. He's not a stranger to Seattle, either. In 2014, his show at the now-closed Suyama Space in Belltown made waves when, during the closing reception, he dramatically destroyed his plaster sculpture of floor-to-ceiling curtains using a metal bar and gravity.

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Aperture, however, is dramatic insofar as the space it takes up. McMahon sprayed cast plaster over inflated plastic molds, positioning them within a wooden structure that makes the plaster pillows appear to be bulging out of it. It measures 15 feet tall and looks believably plush. Sitting squarely in the middle of the space, the work pushes visitors to admire it while circling the outer edges of the gallery. The front desk has extra pieces of sculpture for visitors to fondle, anticipating the magnetism of the material.

What distinguishes this piece from his others is that you have a chance to view the interior of the structure. It's cavernous; I like the projected filled-ness of the plaster pillows from the outside contrasted with its hollow guts. The sculpture's construction is more apparent, giving you a glimpse at McMahon's hand while also understanding its temporality in the space.

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