It’s not marble, it’s not bronze, but it is sculpture ─ bright and bouncing. Jimmy Kuehnle’s inflatables are exciting art form and witty commentary on our interests and enthusiasms.
This summer, Kuehnle’s inflatables invade the Hudson River Museum’s limestone Victorian home, Glenview, and the Brutalist concrete spaces in its modern wing, mushrooming in the galleries. The sculptor, who at times can be found inside his huge and popular costumes inflated by 12-volt motor blowers, says, "When you’re inside an inflatable, the lack of 90-degree angles and natural architectural forms makes for a surreal experience."
Kuehnle also turns his creativity and mechanical know-how from costumes to site-specific installations that activate the space around them. Massively scaled, these sculptures are put in your way, so that you ask, “Is this space mine, or does it belong this extremely large creature blocking me?” Kuehnle’s message, Stop and connect with me — talk and touch me, and, an addendum, Your space may not be as private as you think it is or would like it to be.
The Hudson River Museum is host to Jimmy Kuehnle’s first large-scale solo installation in New York. Products of numerous renderings, Kuehnle inflatables, here in Summer 16, include three new works: Super Punch Bubbles, blossoms of bright color emerging from Glenview’s venerable tower windows that function as an illuminated clock, light blinking the change of hours; You Lick Me, I Lick You, inflatables shaped like tongues that drape the Museum’s Entrance Arch; and in the galleries, Hot Polyester Bladder Lung, that “breathing” beckons you towards its shifting form as it expends life into far reaches of the Museum. The huge neon-pink Please, no smash, a costume-sculpture hybrid, just returned from its sensational season at Cleveland’s MOCA, fills the Museum’s atrium and is joined by You Wear What I Wear and Hello Bye. The titles of the works are as intriguing as the works. "I like titles that make people curious, says Kuehnle, but also offer the potential for your own interpretation by have some sort of call-to-action".
Kuehnle sculptures, which he makes from vinyl-coated polyester fabric, inflate and deflate, pulsing, and by extension breathing, like an organism. Bestowing kinetic energy on a sculpture demands of its maker a sophisticated approach to scale and movement. The installation, itself, always requires new construction and problem solving aided by programming platforms for electronics and the traditional push and pull of winches, pulleys, and rigging. "When I work on projects, I always like to learn things and have new experiences. So I set up challenges, situations that require new techniques," said Kuehnle.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website