Opening Night In Chelsea Like Speed Dating: Snap Judgements Demanded, Follow Up Generally Not Required

by Art Fag City on September 8, 2006 Events

Listen up Chelsea art galleries: If more than a hundred of you are going to have an opening on the same day, co-ordinate extended hours as well. 2 hours is simply not enough time to see OVER 100 OPENINGS. I ran into painter Jules de Balincourt early in the evening, and I thought he was going to have an aneurysm due to the stress of having to see so much work at one time. The guy was literally running on the spot, and looking from side to side as I asked him about his show overseas. Reminding me of the bus in the movie Speed that would blow up if it stopped moving, I quickly decided to leave de Balincourt alone. At that point all I had learned that his show was over. Remember readers, you heard it here first.

For those of you who could give a shit about uneventful conversations with emerging art stars, you are in luck, because I have nothing left to say on the subject. I do however, have some over all impressions of the evening, and those are probably worth sticking around for. First of all, if you happen to like dull representational painting, does Chelsea ever have a treat for you! Scores of galleries opened their doors to collectors yesterday evening, many of them with exactly this kind of fanfare. There was virtually no sculpture, or prints, to be seen and very few drawings. This isn't anything new mind you, but it did seem particularly bad this season.

Now, there's no reason to be disappointed with the fact that there is an array of bad art to be seen since this is pretty much always the case. What we don't know in advance of leaving our homes is how the art will suck, and what 2 percent won't suck. Given that I've already outlined the bad stuff, here is some of what I liked (bearing in mind that like every other gallery hopper, I managed to see about 30% of what was actually out there.)

Derek Eller Gallery
Jesse Bercowetz & Matt Bua

Easily the throw down winner of the evening. The gallery smelled like hay and was filled with organic sculptures that are simultaneously repellant and beautiful. What is really great about this work is that the sculpture has a handcrafted, subterrianean look to it, without lacking direction or purpose.

John Connelly Presents
Gerald Davis

Autobiographical drawings on paper. They are all illustrational in nature and are quirky and awkward without all turning into an episode of “this is my prepub dick”.

Yancey Richardson Gallery

Unusually large dark wooden frames and photographs that are hung too close together are a gutsy move that pays off. Esko Mannikko, takes unusual photographs of rural interiors and exteriors, creating the best photography exhibition I’ve seen in well over a year.

The Stand Out Stinker of the Evening

Leo Koenig Inc.

There are no images on the Leo Koenig site of the work in the show, which is probably to the benefit of that gallery. Most times even beginning a description with “metallic paintings” makes the words “gone wrong” sound redundant, and this work is no different. Hopelessly contrived, garish, and just plain ugly, there is no need for this work to exist.

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