At the Armory Show: John Beech at Peter Blum Gallery, New York City
In this first installation, John Beech at Peter Blum Gallery, I kept thinking "car parts" but whatever they were, the transformation of Beech's objects was sublime. The installation had these elements almost dancing on the wall. (Coincidentally, the building's capped ductwork echoes the round shapes--and you'll see that this theme of art and not-art runs through the post.)
I liked much of what I saw. I appreciated the crude refinement, or the refined crudeness of the work—and not surprisingly for me, the geometry of much of it. Yet walking through the fairs, I kept thinking, “Haven’t I seen this before?” In a manner of speaking, I have. In Unmonumental, an occasional series in her Newsgrist blog, Joy Garnett posts her photographs of castoff objects, often curbside trash, shot around town. In doing so she elevates the stuff to something worthy of a second look. I’ve interspersed these pics with the art. (Hint: Garnett’s pics are the smaller ones.)
Sometimes, as with Garnett’s photographs, the castoffs are truly transcendent. El Anatsui is the master of transcendence, but there are other transformations here as well. I liked the work of Sarah Braman, who seemed to be drawing from multiple sources--Home Depot materials, Richard Prince autobody parts, and Ellsworth Kelly (if Kelly had a color sense)--but the result was startling and unique.
Armory Show: Sarah Braman at Museum 52, New York City, above and below
Joy Garnett: Unmonumental 126
Armory Show: Gyan Panchal at Galerie Frank Elbaz, Paris
Armory Show: Leon Vrankow at Stella Lohaus Gallery, Antwerp
Below: a where the sculpture meets the floor
This piece, about 30 inches high, may well be my favorite in all the shows. I loved the nicely delineated rectangle cut into the crudely stacked blocks of wood, and the slight curve of the stack in contrast to the carving. The earthy red is iron oxide, I'm guessing. And then that notch in the second block from the top becomes an almost anthropomorphic wink. What's not to love?
Armory Show: Angela De La Cruz at Lisson Gallery, London
Not all the stuff I saw was at the fairs. There was plenty in the galleries. I picked three shows whose work transcended its origins. We start in SoHo with Gerry Keon at OK Harris, a modest-size show in which each small work was quietly poetic. Here I think the artist reconfigured his materials, crafting them rather nicely, and put his hand to the surfaces, finishing what time had begun.
In Chelsea at Freight & Volume, Jim Lee (who also had work in the gallery's booth at the Armory Show), seems more interested in Frankensteinian recreation, and I mean that in a good way. These objects are crude but powerful. The show is up through April 4. And in the vast space at Reeves Contemporary, Wade Kavanaugh has created a river of sheetrock bricks. Go see it! You have a week. It's up through the 21st.
Jim Lee at Freight & Volume, Chelsea, above and below
Wade Kavanaugh at Reeves Contemporary, Chelsea
The installation suggests both a river and the wall that is unable to hold it back.
Detail of the sheetrock bricks below