Robert Therrien, Installation view. Image via Gagosian
I don’t suppose the amount of large art I spotted Chelsea yesterday will sound particularly newsworthy to anyone, though I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t point out May as a particularly strong season for the super sized object. As can be expected, most art with a close spatial relationship with ceiling seemed a little more ostentatious than it did moving though there were certainly a few hits in the bunch. Amongst those high points were Gagosian‘s oversized Robert Therrien chairs, bowls and pots which not only look good, but literally make a viewer dizzy when traveling around them. Aspects such as this may help build a case for the practicality of normal sized bowls in a kitchen but it also ensures that work doesn’t reduce to an experiment in embiggifying common objects or making usable items unusable.
Zhang Huan, Installation view, photograph via c-monster
To briefly sum up Zhang Huan’s exhibition at both Pace Wildenstein locations in Chelsea, the work is well crafted and impressive, but also grossly spectacular and much too maudlin for my tastes. The work at the 25th street location is surely the greatest offender in this regard, Huan’s Memory Door series collaging silkscreens and carved barn doors to create sentimental narratives needlessly underscored by the ideas of memory evoked by the materials and photographic medium itself. Probably worth seeing regardless, the show will at least allow viewers to have an informed opinion on the work.
I would however caution against too much interaction with gallery staff members, since they are a less than friendly bunch. Speaking to this, the Pace Wildenstein receptionist was so aggressively rude to me the other day when I asked to take a picture I doubt I’ll be back any time soon. “Does it matter that I’m from the press?”, I asked politely having not yet read the copious signage around the gallery, only to have the question returned with. “Yes. No pictures allowed!” I can’t imagine that kind of charm keeps anyone coming back, but then I’ve never really had the sense that Pace much concerned itself with the interests of the great unwashed masses to begin with.
David Altmejd at Andrea Rosen Gallery
“I’m not sure if the show is the most brilliant work David Altmejd has ever put together or the tackiest”*, a friend of mine explained two weeks ago, forever coloring my own view of his exhibition currently at Andrea Rosen Gallery. It’s probably awful — after all, how many holed veiny figures can one artist get away with — but I too now have a hard time dismissing it, if for no other reason than the seed was planted that maybe I shouldn’t. I also suspect however that I wouldn’t have so many doubts about the missteps in this work were it exhibited in a different space. The figures look astonishingly good in relationship to the gallery’s lighting supports an aspect of the art that will not remain once moved. In any other space, these pieces would probably just be the glittery over-sized acid trips I think they are.
*An approximated quote.