Mtn Space is pleased to present Nothing is Difficult Forever, a solo show of new works by painter John Skibo. In Nothing is Difficult Forever, Massachusetts based artist John Skibo blurs the boundaries between still life and portraits, objects and figures. What began with the exploration of materials from the remains of carpentry work, turned into a six year study of multi-faceted heads and sculpted figures, which evoke flashes of the felt vulnerability of our lived bodies. Composed as they are of scraps, these works conjure our cultural obsession with real estate, renovation, and the drive to replace the new with the more fashionable. Paired with imagery of well worn materials such as a passed down blanket, antique lamps, and the stuffing of discarded pillows, Skibo’s paintings challenge us to reconsider our relationship to the objects around us.
The figures in Skibo’s paintings are distorted with limbs akimbo, detached from what one might expect, they appear to be broken or falling apart. They are not falling apart; they are made that way. He makes them by tracing his own body or that of his partner’s. The sculptures have many heads and no distinct race or identity. They are scattered and confused, defined, and rough around the edges. They are made with construction materials like plywood, rigid foam and house paint, mostly leftovers from working as a carpenter on homes that at times date back to the 19th Century.
In these construction materials he sees a connection to the homes we all live in, forming a relationship between the figure and that which surrounds it. The sculptures wear old clothing that shows the years of wear in the elbows and knees. A kind of play on the idea of people being a product of their environment. The clothing is from Skibo’s closet, in it he has found inspiration in its simplicity as a garment. Only people of great importance could afford to commission portraits. Skibo aims to connect to this history through his artwork. He likes the possibility that his work could represent anyone, that a viewer could potentially see themselves in his portraits.
As an artist John has started to understand his own struggle and the advantage of where and to whom he was born. For him these pieces are an exploration of bigger existential questions. He wasn’t raised a religious person and struggles with the why of our existence and the why of painting. While painting the light and the dark he finds beauty in the lifeless forms, creating something new that is both outside of himself and about himself. He’s searching for answers to the bigger questions, in the hope that Nothing is Difficult Forever.