New Religion, True Religion, Bigger than the Pope

June 17, 2023September 2, 2023

Tyrrell Winston’s (b. 1985, California) is an artist living and working between Detroit, MI and Brooklyn, NY. His work is a result of a long process of gathering, arranging, and transforming discarded items. Winston has developed a passionate habit of collecting found objects from the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn, driven by a desire to serve the public, examine the objects, and be captivated by the enduring energy they retain. A key theme in Winston's work is the juxtaposition of contrasting objects to explore the absurdity of their symbolism. By intentionally combining these elements, he delves into themes of hope and hopelessness, revival and renewal, vitality, and recklessness. 

‘I like to dance with sports history to contribute to art history, and vice versa.’

– Tyrrell Winston, 2023

In 1997 Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls played a preseason exhibition game in Paris, France, where the newspaper L'Equipe declared Jordan ‘bigger than the Pope’. Today, sports and celebrities are the new religions and athletes and personalities are the new gods. Immortality seems more tangible than ever, so whose accomplishments will be remembered tomorrow?

One of Winston's notable bodies of work involves basketball wall sculptures, which delve into the notion of embedded history and how an object's past can be abstracted. Infinite amounts of hands and emotions have gone into using each basketball. These sculptures consist entirely of basketballs that were lost, donated to thrift stores, put on eBay, abandoned, or some simply forgotten. Winston manipulates them into sculptural forms and connects them to create predetermined compositions. These emblematic works are a resurrected dream (or maybe nightmare). They take us to a place in the past and remind us of where we are today or where we want to be, creating a sense of future nostalgia.

The bronze stool with the basketball rim is a reference to Marcel Duchamp's ‘Bicycle Wheel’ and Sherrie Levine's ‘Fountain (Buddha)’. Titled ‘Imposter Syndrome’, it acknowledges the influence artists have on each other, the same way an athlete can adopt a move from another one. Similarly, the paintings pay an homage to modern-day mythologies the same way that Cy Twombly was inspired by Greek mythology. Winston’s powerful figures are the closest thing we have to Greek gods in a contemporary setting.