Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Benjamin Reiss at Bel Ami


Faced with what we don't understand our minds are adept at inventing stories, we see forests and invent gods. Under the hood a ghost, in darkness monsters. Art has never invented a fully functioning four cylinder engine or successfully refined petroleum, that is the space of industry, technology, science. Art's greatest technology was fancy dirts mixed in oil expelled from seeds crushed by hand and kept in pigs bladders for 500 years until someone finally invented a tube. If art has designed anything as complicated as an engine it is the turgidity of language used to scaffold certain canvases upright, our hot air the internal combustion keeping the whole thing running. Reiss's fantasies replace the complex systems with a cartoon which would seem sillier if they didn't mimic the diagrams doctors are using to perform heart surgery on your uncle. The diagram has always been a sort of slapstick on the notion of understanding or knowledge, the elision of certain nuances for clarity, vagueness removed and its hole filled with thick bright color. "our limited capacity to understand, or even the failure of understanding." In the margins of Leonardo DaVinci's study of a fetus, a note to himself: "Ask Biagino Crivelli's wife how the capon rears and hatches the eggs of hens when he is unplucked."

See too: Yngve Holen at Fine Arts, SydneyAlbert Herter at Koenig & Clinton,