AJ Fosik: When Creating Beast, Man Must...

When Creating Beast, Man Must...

Text by Natalie Rinn
July 19, 2017

If art is the creation of something that has never quite existed before, then even more than most, AJ Fosik makes art. Maybe because he grew up in Detroit, Michigan, with a family who didn't make anything (his father couldn't use a screwdriver, he says; if that is hyperbole for effect, the point is nonetheless made) he dove straight into applying his hands to physical objects. He was the kid who ripped things apart to see how they worked. After getting his BFA, the art he eventually made shared the same DIY roots as his upbringing—ungrounded in theory or traditional practice. Like a kid alone in his basement, it was the result of a determined, and wildly creative imagination. The work of a lone wolf who emerged from a pre-Internet, Midwestern world.

He calls his pieces constructions; "sculpture" is too limited for his multi-dimensional, multi-referential creatures. He uses mostly wood, which he cuts and shapes into tiny pieces, spray paints, and cobbles together into loudly-hued and vaguely iconographic beasts--something reminiscent of a traditional Chinese dragon mask, but with more heads, eyes, mouths, and body parts attached in unpredictable locations (like a forearm and hand, that might wield a weapon and jut out from a face). Though his work is the sum of so many oppositional parts, the end result is surprisingly integrated—and it’s the kind of surprise that challenges, and ultimately delights. No matter how menacing the physiognomy, each seems animated by a current of playfulness.

Meaning is not something Fosik likes to give to his art, but we can't be blamed for wanting it. His biography gives us some clues. He has traveled extensively outside of the US, and also lived in several cities in it, including Philadelphia, New York, and Portland. An attempt to understand culture, in its eclectic randomness, he has said is part of his effort. He has also noted references to totemic deities, similar to what Chinese masks accomplish, but believes religion is a sham. Recently, his work has become more personal. And with that, he’s noticed its appeal has widened. But this makes perfect sense: what is most personal is most human, and therefore common to everyone. We are all, somewhere, that kid at home, imagining a bigger world through the objects we are given, and doing our best to understand it all on our own.