The Drawers - David Pirrie   Commentary written by Julie Oakes

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Inde-Picks (Independent Curator's Selection)

David Pirrie's carefully rendered remains of vehicular accidents, in pencil on vellum, over laid with a grid and presented as art resonate with psychological and cultural implications. The motor vehicle is an icon that signifies positive as well as negative traits. The automobile is a symbol of wealth, status, style and even sexiness. Right down to the utilitarian vehicles for transportation - the eighteen-wheeler for example has become a pop trope, inspiring songs, literature, art and even looking like art with graphic, chrome and illuminated accessorizing. The motor vehicle is a necessity, a habit of convenience and a privilege. Yet it has also created immense repercussions on the environment and the need for oil has America at war with Iraq.

The extension of the image of the automobile into wreckage - the dead body of all that the automotive industry has come to stand for - has a metonymic meaning. David Pirrie's drawings reduce the bulky, twisted steel and rubber carcass to a comprehensible size. It is comparable to a small crucifix, a reminder of mortality and hence a prompt from which to formulate living. This sense of life's transience is especially poignant in the crumpled bus. It is empty and has been abandoned, for it is not only useless in it's vehicular capacity, but it also was the container of lives that were lost as it transformed from a transportation for people to a smashed death trap. The viewer is, after all, still amongst the living, examining the tiny depiction of the remains of an accident that happened outside of his immediate ken. It has no identity other than a culturally pervasive, violent possibility of how death can occur. The drawings are remarkable examples of the ability to resurrect, from an image associated with death, a conceptual awe at man's trajectory from his discovery of the wheel to this contemporary, conceptual translation of where it has led him. This work speaks of the pity of progress, the fragility of human accomplishments and yet the sophistication of the overview of Pirrie's analysis grants a divine perspective on our condition.

Picture the artist, David Pirrie, looking at the photographs of the wrecked vehicles, carefully drawing them, paying them attention, with a modeling that caresses the images. The work becomes distanced, divided into little squares with a weak yellow grid and then it passes from his hand and is brought out to be examined.

Copyright 2006,  Julie Oakes