Ever Gold Gallery continues to organize multidimensional shows that refuse to conform to stodgy narratives, surreptitiously injecting cerebral weight from contemporary culture into works that circumnavigate the gallery’s once low-brow categorization. Works from nine artists are on display, crossing the mediums of painting, sculpture, video and installation, in their exhibition simply titled A Summer Group Show.
Sculpture stands prominently in the room. Mark Benson‘s “Clown Car” is an anxiety provoking exercise in tension. A counter top, removed from its normal inhabitance and standing naked in the gallery, scribbled upon and water stained, acts as a pedestal for a dish rack over-piled with kitchen effects. Spaghetti tongs and wooden utensils extend from available orifices in the conglomerate, hooks for inverted yogurt containers and clamshell fast-food trays – everything held together solely by friction and gravity. The dish rack, set at the very left-edge of the counter top, rests at the verge of catastrophe. Jutting diagonally into the gallery space, the sculpture’s front corner begs for a collision, and the passing nonsense of oblivious gallery-goers invokes a shudder in the patient viewer who waits to see if the strength of the artist’s handiwork could withstand a bump. (I am happy to report the work suffered no such test during my observation.) The inventory of the dish rack – mismatched plates, chipped bowls, wine glasses – define the work’s emotion: items otherwise stored below, hidden from view, now stand awkwardly in the white cube, long dried, far from their home. While the piling and foreign setting of these objects suggest the obsessiveness of the artist’s studio practice, so much so that one doesn’t have the time to put away the dried wash, the constructed tensions and the work’s title speak more to the absurdity of the art process itself. The process of creation, as well creation specifically for an impending exhibition, can feel like the nonsense of a clown car driving in a figure-eight. Stuffed and stacked with powdered harlequins, the car entertains circus goers who sit around the ring and wonder if it will tip. What needs to give way to cause reaction? Is the removal of objects from their typical domain necessary to the art process? Are gallery shows, both the artists who dress up the white cube and the glitterati that fund the system, just a big fucking joke?
Adam Parker Smith contributes three wonderful works that conflate luxury, personage, and politics. “Bottom 3” perverts traditional bust sculpture with its use of rolled Formica sheeting, bound with a bungee cord to mimic a black granite pedestal, it provides a platform for a folded foam vagina bust, secured by the constriction of a thick high-fashion belt common to classier women of the evening. “American Totem” is an eleven-foot high presentation of politics’ favorite characters in painted latex and expandable aerosol foam. Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, Colin Powell, and George Bush the First stack one upon the other, constructed in the most artificial of materials, an aesthetic of saccharine as sappy sweet as their facial guffaws. A photo construction, “Untitled (Keira Knightly)”, brings together resin and paint with traditional celebrity portraiture to create an artifice of sensuality inside a frame, the sum of materials refracting light to create the illusion of dripping steam. Nothing is as it seems here, and stacked together it laments the reeking stench of American mainstream media, polluted with talking heads and celebrity sewage.
The strongest painting in the show is that of Evan Nesbit. Using acrylic, cotton, and burlap, Nesbit has created challenging imagery, see-through compositions that faintly reveal stretcher bars, compositions whose paint extrudes through the fabric’s weave, allowing diffuse, reflected light to pass back-and-forth through each work, illuminating the wall upon which they hang, acting as pseudo-scrims. Nesbit’s palette and imagery is typical of current painting, excited chromatic geometries recalling internet freneticness and geodesia-influenced structures, but it’s Nesbit’s integration of texture that really pushes these works beyond the sea of repetition many galleries seem wont to rely on every other month. Nesbit’s constructions challenge the inside-outness of painting: as a viewer deconstructs his process, viewing the extrusions as a gravity-driven result of smushing color through the weave, one must consider if we’re looking at the front or back of the work. Like getting lost inside the softness of a cashmere sweater, these are paintings you yearn to touch and stroke. Both his intimate, hand-sized works – which are really stunning – and his airy, wall-sized efforts draw you in, abrasive fibers catalyzed into a fuzzy allure.
Jeremiah Jenkins and Chris Ritson also make strong contributions. Jenkins’ mixed media response to capitalism and urban decay pairs well with Ritson’s alchemy. Jenkins uses discarded Wells Fargo checkbooks to create handcuffs, among other materials transformed into new objects, as Ritson salvages porcelain animal tchotchkes, covers them with hand-crafted bismuth, and contains them under rematerialized mass-produced household glass. Where Jenkins uses the products of capitalism to mimic the resultant social conditions of the manic American economy, Ritson uses chemical manufacturing techniques to comment on the encroachment of capitalism’s synthetics upon natural life.
A Summer Group Show is open until July 21st.
Top: Clown Car, Mark Benson 2011
Bottom: Untitled (Black), Evan Nesbit 2012