Daniel Agdag’s Stories I Haven’t Written Down

Held aloft by what appears to be an impossibly narrow tower of scaffolding, the structure perched atop is nearly recognizable but still strangely surreal. The building’s exterior splayed open to expose its frozen mechanical heart, a system of gears and cogs seemingly await being spun into life. And emerging from this rigid construction is an airily light balloon, whimsically waiting to take flight and escape the everyday. With some packed suitcases residing on the porch, the weighty baggage helping to hold the fantastical down, this is the sculptural art of Daniel Agdag. And its completely made out of cardboard and tracing paper.

A Brief History of Daniel Agdag

The son of Armenian immigrants, Australian artist Daniel Agdag studied painting and photography before turning his focus to filmmaking. Working abroad in a series of behind-the-camera jobs, Agdag began revisiting ideas from his notebooks, each filled with line drawings of contraptions and various structures. And he started realizing some of these elaborate two-dimensional drawings as sculptures. Using cardboard to assemble his pieces, a medium he’d been introduced to by his neighbor, an architect, Agdag instantly felt connected with this material’s unassuming appearance and tactile nature. Then, while earning his master’s degree in animation from the Victorian College of the Arts, Agdag merged his passions and created a stop-motion short film fashioned entirely from cardboard, titled Paper City Architects (2006). Continuing to build his elaborate structures for film projects, the artist eventually found himself straying, creating singular pieces with their own narratives and no association to his films. This lead to his first fine art exhibition of works in this style, 2012’s Sets for a Film I’ll Never Make at Melbourne’s Off the Kerb Gallery & Studio. Since then he’s continued to create his fantastical structures for both purposes, his most recent short film, 2017’s Lost Property Office, having won the AACTA Award for Best Short Animation while his sculptural works have found their way into exhibitions & private collections worldwide, including that of the Hermès fashion house.

Daniel Agdag’s Stories I Haven’t Written Down

With each of Agdag’s sculptures taking between one and three months to complete, his strange contraptions are formed from hundreds of pieces of 1mm, 0.8mm and 0.2mm cardboard, each cut with surgical precision by his scalpel’s #11 blade, held together solely with AVP glue. But by this point in his career, Agdag no longer needs to evolve a two-dimensional reference in his notebooks, he’s able to work from a mental blueprint, intuitively assembling his structures without a preconceived plan. And perhaps that’s why his debut solo exhibition in the United States is titled Stories I Haven’t Written Down, as each of these narratively complex works exists strictly in three-dimensional space. Marvels of balance, toothpick-thin scaffolding securely holding them aloft, each piece stands serenely on its timber base. Standing roughly 2-feet tall apiece, the hand-blown glass domes containing them elicit the sensation that they are scientific artifacts from another realm. And, should one forget to check their imagination at the door, the delicate balloons emerging from some of these structures just might carry you to the fantastical land they originated from.

The Northwesterly, 2017

The Chapel, 2017

The Still House, 2018

The General and the Caboose, 2017

The 2nd State, 2017

The Elevator, 2018

Daniel Agdag’s Stories I Haven’t Written Down solo exhibition at the Jonathan Levine Gallery had its opening reception on Saturday, February 17th from 6-8pm. All works in this exhibition will remain on display until March 17th, 2018 at the gallery’s physical location (888 Newark Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07306).

View the gallery’s dedicated page for the exhibition

For more information on Daniel Agdag:
website | instagram

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