For his third solo exhibition at ZieherSmith, Javier Piñón unites low and high-brow traditions – the cowboy and antique furniture – in meticulously rendered collages that are at once poignant, heartbreaking and hilarious. Cut from the stillness of historical source material such as early decorative arts magazines, catalogues and classic collector’s tomes like A Treasury of Early American Homes and The American Chair, stacks of chairs and clusters of chandeliers become chaotic obstacle courses for Piñón’s protagonist, the American cowboy. Though born in Miami to Cuban parents, the artist spent most of his childhood in Houston, Texas and has remained preoccupied with the expectations of this American archetype.

Harnessing all the hectic energy of the rodeo into the hermetic environment of his neutral backgrounds, the artist forces his iconographic man to confront his limitations in comic-tragedies of classical proportions. The compositional and psychological tension of the works is further enhanced by the artist’s own hard-won search for imagery and the laborious, exacting techniques that belie their creation

Ultimately, whether they successfully scale towers of Chippendale masterpieces or swing across the void on candlestick vines, Piñón’s figures are doomed to be unceremoniously bucked off or dropped, and the underlying message is one of perseverance.