If you’re anything like me, the city of Baltimore stands in my mind primarily as the setting for The Wire, once described perfectly as “A Russian novel of a television series.” But now I can add another string to my Baltimore knowledge bow, having come across the stupendous work of Jonathan Latiano.
The sculptor has a keen scientific interest and cites “biology, astronomy, physics and geology” as the starting points for his jaw-dropping installations which seem to wrestle with art’s traditional restrictions, overpowering these constraints to burst out of the frame, the floor or the earth. The brutal tactility of many of the materials he uses adds an unsettling dimension to his work which he says, "explores the tension created by the presence of fragility and the temporary.
He goes on: "I am interested in where things are physically and metaphorically beginning and ending, and questioning what is static and what is kinetic. Site-specificity has become a vital factor in my body of work, to let the art react and grow within a space in which it was created, to capitalise on a moment before it is gone forever. I find myself repeatedly drawn to specific materials to express these concepts such as feathers, glass, dust, and salt for their vulnerability and ephemerality, and resins, styrofoam, plastics, lacquers and enamel paints for their artificiality, permanence and unnerving beauty.
“I find the poeticism and concepts of the physics of our universe simultaneously fascinating, beautiful and horrifying. The pieces that I create contrast abstracted human intuition with the reality of our natural environment. My work, in many ways, is my own personal attempt to understand my place in the physical universe.”
Big ideas, realised with such bombast is a rare but winning combination.