Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Martine Bedin, Mai-Thu Perret at Fondation Speerstra

Martine Bedin, Mai-Thu Perret at Fondation Speerstra

The pairing of these two make more than sense. Mai-Thu Perret's slurping the modernist milk shake regurgitated as placating design - the astral plane of wallpaper’s elsewhereness spiritual dispersion; and Martine Bedin’s, of the Memphis Group, reinvigoration of design as a skew, eschewed, and totally screwed modernism; into something awkward, mysterious and its own. Like a Heimo Zobernig designed by burglar clowns, Bedins’ works seem at first to make some sort of sense before falling apart in their unfunctionality. Its an old trick, the functional looking functionless object, but its rendered here just strange enough, that the way in which it falls is sometimes a surprise, mocking its expected outcome, at its best when you can never figure out why it looked functional to begin with.
Ned Vena at Société

Ned Vena at Société

How has it come to pass we find Ned Vena enjoyable? We like it. What indoctrination has brought us here, this artificial and chemical form of quotational painting. Or is that the enjoyability of it? The Toxic Avenger version of abstraction. Clinically chemical. Finding “life” in the tiny space of the handmade glitch, itself a totally dead gesture - the accident that births the swamp thing: a “crosshair.” The permeating rubber vapor entrenched against that which would purify it. Everything derivative, prepackaged, a readymade conceptualism again again again in the arms-race of the most dead, bludgeoned, form of modernism. How can we kill it again, and again they ask, until it becomes its own genre, a mannerism of cold supposed irrationality that actually makes total sense: the press release draws out every referential hook from the work, and reads like a thriller, the detective chases clues left by a self-exposing criminal, who so desperately wants to be found naked, alive and diddling to be hoisted to the courts of fortune and fame.
Not to even talk about the exhibition’s title, “MENACE II SOCIÉTÉ.”

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

David Robilliard at ICA

David Robilliard, Wondering What to Do this Evening, 1987, acrylic on canvas. Photograph: Paul Knight. Courtesy collection Chris Hall. © The Estate of David Robilliard. All rights reserved. DACS 2014.          

They’re flat in their half-humored, and accurate modern ennui. Doodled adverts of modern world of half-hearted enjoyment. An anhedonia of Nauman-neons made paintings. Posters of a gay vietnamese hairdresser who knows everyone, all the gossip, is invited to all the parties, and at night just can’t wait to get home and clip his toenails and curl his hair in front the glowing tv. The irrational slogans and trademarks of contemporary life. At once as splitting as they are banal as they are absurd. Both inspirational and defeatist. the work is waist deep in mire of bored tragi-comedy. There should be more, these should be in every museum. Like a Paul Thek who never got out of bed in the morning.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Mathis Altmann at Freedman Fitzpatrick

Mathis Altmann at Freedman Fitzpatrick

Altmann inverted his work. What were once beams barnacled in the happy modern-trash detritus - like a more highly magnetized Rachel Harrison, or a contemporary Barres de bois - have been in this exhibition turned inside-out into spherical holes of diorama-like insides, magnetar earths erupting, revealing a cybernetic brain theatre; the gallery itself turned inside out, internal, as if the small spheres contained the negative air of the white gallery space, the clippings on the tarp reiterating the outside/inside mix-up, like is the air in your stomach technically outside of you?
It’s hard not mention Mike Kelley’s Silver Ball, or Altmann’s contemporary, Nicolas Ceccaldi’s toy gun surveillance, and his own past objects but this exhibition runs with those, fueled by the drug of real heavy installionism.
The press release’s assemblage surrealism amplifies the theatricality of the whole thing to levels above reason, a little too indulgent, doing little to parse the actual small strangeness that exists, and instead bludgeoning it with lacking language. We get it dude, cybernetic weenies from venus.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Michael E. Smith at Susanne Hilberry

Michael E. Smith at Susanne Hilberry

Always one step ahead of the pack, Smith has moved away from the sparse hide-the-object installationism towards a b-wurtz-like awkward modernism, where objects, though still mysterio, experience no disinclination to proclaim themselves as objects in a gallery, like no-problem, but, often looking more awkward for it, placed with an obtuseness, and never resolve themselves into it in any tidy manner.
From his Yale grad exhibition to now, Smith’s work has moved further into the realm of odd material fetishism, without adornment, in space.
From magazines and fluorescent liquids to weed-whipper-heads covered in oatmeal, to skull-chips, to now lightning rods, and clarinets swallowed snake-like inside pvc tubes, and prehistoric whale ear bone fossils attached to footballs. Moves from dark ambience to clear-view contraptionism of a product-like strangeness.
Mathew Cerletty at Office Baroque

An adaptive logic, staying slightly ahead of predictability within a semi-consistent style so as to appear consistent (the first rule of any good game), Cerletty’s long run involves the interminable re-routings of someone evading, or being evasive. Any broad assertions about Cerletty’s work are made to come prepackaged with the clarification “except of course when it isn’t.” Identity, rather than constructed as “sameness over time” path, instead attempts fracturing, balloons to a meta-level, where the map looks like maze, endless deferrals, backtracking notes in succession but never in any repetition.

“slight deviations from normalcy”
“most exciting when you make something that’s not immediately recognizable as your own”
“like a jigsaw puzzle link.”

It could force us to look at individual paintings, but the paintings themselves, in their askew settings, also defer “sense.” With their illustrative clarity they offer hints, appear as clues, to some pre-established mystery of what their direct and illustrativeness - highly rendered petroglyphs - might be telling us, appearing as so much evidence, but the mystery never resolves itself, as it shouldn't in all “great art” until you feel as though maybe this is the game, of course, being played. The work is thus premised on having the illusion of containing, or being able to convey, some sort of necessary information but never, of course, actually revealing it, or even revealing the rules of the apparently very logical game, as mysterio objects and totally fun. When it works, such as the Algus Greenspon show, the work creates a sort of vertigo, a reeling from having truly been a culprit one step-ahead of the viewer as detective.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Nikolas Gambaroff - Galerie Meyer Kainer


In 2010, Gambaroff - just prior to his explosion as cool-art-darling - was making mugs printed with, what would become, his signature slack non-signature, the no-assed squiggle of someone who just can’t be made to care about whatever his authorship might connote, making mugs printed with this, and using these souvenir mugs as literal building-blocks. But the symbolism was oppressive, and Gambaroff, in a moment of what must have been white-hot ecstatic brilliance, stripped the metaphorical baggage and, compressing with coal-into-diamond tightness, conjured pictorially perfect gems, selling as fast as god’s chariots would allow, running into each new exhibition with the all permutations of his painting emissions, and swapping in with each installation gimmickry to keep it looking slightly fresh, as if to prove the immaculate concepts of his on-an-on-ism, a little pro-bono work to help the real coins get passed from behind the installation-as-commodity-camouflage, and evolving with the slow pace of modernist painter getting ready for what to do with his seminal vestiges next, and continued this way ‘till now, here again in front of your face again, 4 years later for the 7th or 8th time.

Currently instead of newspapers and advertorials we have comic book pages, the famous ones from Alan Moore, Frank Miller, Geof Darrow, reduced to sticky ruination wallpaper; and a new variant on the Oulipo-poetry-press-release hiding that even if there were something to say, it would have been the same non-thing for tenth time now, eye-rollingly, whatever; and then the addition of some game-boards to talk about instead, something about social relations, eye-rollingly, a metaphor so symbolically ham-fisted that you wish he had just made it really clear and printed them with what they were always made to say inspite of brushy ineptitude, the gameboards: Sorry.
David Diao at Marta Cervera

Diao’s work is often premised in the metanarrative established over the paintings, the provenance of painting, his own career, his fictional career hopes etc. Here the press release is in Spanish and the painting’s text in Cyrillic alphabet. We’re left with a formal mystery, of architectural bits printed and isolated, repeated, and painted as geometric abstraction, layered, and compared with futurist exhibitions, and then plus the Cyrillic.
The work extends a net of hope-to-be explication around itself, building and deferring and gesturing at itself, a slow-build complexing that structure a space of confusion and doubling back and second guessing. Somehow R.H. Quaytman meets Daan van Golden, weirdly.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Lutz Bacher at Daniel Buchloz

Lutz Bacher at Daniel Buchholz

All the “information” in this show, the symbols etc whatever, already contain within them their loss. The WTC in snow, the Buffalo, the men as soldiers, the words scrawled, the random plunking of keys. The pathos of much of Bacher’s work is heavy here in its nihilism. The bareness of the rooms offset by a horrible subconscious construction, a non-sculpture of jagged metal reminiscent of the things you cough up at night, a cubist torture device. It offsets the clean minimalism of the photographs. An empty surrealist sculpture of half formed buffalo, over-slaughtered symbol of the American west, here vessels or volumes, who, in their skeletal incompleteness, let their empty contents vaporate, disperse vaporously through the sieve of chicken wire like loosely intertwined fingers. Their “Paleolithic cave painting” look an omen of the future crumbling.
The word desolate strikes you again and again and again.
The oft-premise of Bacher work is loss, the loss of humanity, of information, of containable knowledge, a hands-in-air gesture of trying to contain, label, some part of humanity as it makes it way towards expected apocalypse, the cusp of obliteration. The buffalo sculptures deploy their feel of a culture half there half on their way out. The scrawled text’s intermediary feel pre-premise their future obsolescence, “the title of this book, the theory of everything” hypothesizes then an endpoint for the work beyond one of human time, in the far reaches of nothingness with mock laughter at the soldiers and men who once occupied it, smiling and stern, goodbye.
The work continuously occupies the place similar to nostalgic photographs, creating the empathy for the present as if its already the past.

Lutz Bacher at Daniel Buchholz

“... revealing the poetic inadequacy of depicting and describing the cosmos.”

Poetic Inadequacy.

The xerotic appropriations a peel of dead skin; an isolation in which images are stripped to their imprint. The aggressive desolation of the original life or allure left to a tertiary alien distance, as though foreign, reduced to objective information, to what they may have once connoted to a human race. The nihilistic double-bind of the images thrown in your face leave the author’s hands in air’s surrender, as hostage, the images left afloat in the air of heavy white gallery frames.