John R. G. Roth's carefully crafted and conceptually layered objects offer interesting structures that are as real as they are unreal. The sculptures in his recent body of work are witty interpretations of certain recollections from his youth. Roth mentions they are “informed from growing up in a house that had many models, an interest in boat building, plus an affection for oceans and lakes.”
The scale of these works put them in context with models and replicas. What they model or replicate is an ambiguous nautical dreamscape. They seem to belong as much to a display of natural history as they do to an investor’s world fair. Here, in the gallery, they serve as an insightful reminder of our obsession with both types of exposition. The strange world that they reference seems only vaguely familiar. Frozen moments from an indefinite time of bizarre incongruities. Whether dreamy and light or darkly nightmarish, they all surface from an imaginative mindset that represents the artist’s remembrances and parody aspects of hobby indulgences as well as conventions of naval adventurousness.
With strict attention to detail and perfection, Roth constructs works that are very convincing display archetypes. Moreover, this control of the medium allows him to fabricate clever artifice. These sculptures are representations of mystified memories as well as a commentary on the cloudiness of historicizing and the sheer speculation of predicting. Where nature collides with machine and unlikely forms are depicted as majestic vessels, there is no boundary to the discordant juxtapositions in Roth’s uncanny designs.