We Went To Chelsea, Vol. 1

by Will Brand and Paddy Johnson on February 9, 2012 · 7 comments Quick Hits

Sergej Jensen at Anton Kern, installation view

Sergej Jensen at Anton Kern, installation view

We see a lot more art than we ever get to tell people about, and we want to fix that. Towards that goal, we’ll be posting some quick hits – a paragraph or so of notes from each show we see in a day. Then we’ll argue. Then you can argue. It’ll be fun. These aren’t full reviews, but they’re a starting point. This week: Sergej Jensen, Thomas Scheibitz, Eric Wesley, Michael Snow, On Kawara, Nick Mauss, Mat Colliwshaw, and Damien Hirst.

Sergej Jensen, Anton Kern –

WB: Sergej Jensen’s faux-rough abstractions aren’t anything new, but they’re exceptionally well-done. A nearly-monochrome blue work in the back is particularly good, with a single jet of color in just the right state of destruction. The only semblance of reality in these paintings is a comma-shaped Garfield tail on a large, unpainted Franken-canvas by the door; it’s hilarious.

Thomas Scheibitz, Tanya Bonakdar –

WB: Don’t waste time with the boring collages and half-joke sculptures; the paintings here are superb. Bright, colorful paintings with fun, varied textures that perfectly toe the line between abstraction and representation: what more could you want?

PJ: I think those paintings were the best thing about a generally poor show. The collages were an unorganized mess of abstraction, the backroom foam hand with lights had negative presence, plus there was that pillar with what looks like enlarged perfs from a roll of film hanging from the top. The most interesting thing about that sculpture is that from some vantage points the perfs would disappear, making a really dull sculpture even less interesting.

Thomas Scheibitz, ohne Titel (No. 619), 2011

Thomas Scheibitz, ohne Titel (No. 619), 2011

Scheibitz’s palette is a little garish for my taste –yellow, black, and aqua together — but there’s a great roundish blob in blue and red and muddy green that vaguely looks like a clock. That might be worth the trip.

WB: That clock is dope.

Eric Wesley, Bortolami –

WB: The enormous work in the main gallery – The Improbability of Intentionally Creating Shock – is a fantastic, useless thing, somewhere between Jean Tinguely’s Homage to New York and Jeppe Hein’s fire-breathing wall holes. It’s apparently meant to create a static shock, but as the press release notes, “The shock is merely implied and not made explicit, derived from physical form and phenomenon, or lack thereof.” We LOLed. The work in the back is a tiny, sealed-off room-installation that reeks of paint; the topographical map of the EU inside wasn’t reason enough for me to put up with the stench.

Michael Snow, Jack Shainman –

WB: Eh throughout. Exchange, a 1985 work with four very convincing holograms, is a surprising and fun technological spectacle; it only sorta-kinda works as an art piece. The Viewing of Six New Works, a group of bright monochrome projections that expand and contract, is basically a robot made to take Ellsworth Kelly’s job.

On Kawara, David Zwirner –

WB: There’s still nothing to say about the Today series. Display cases throughout the gallery hold some of the boxes the works came in, along with the newspapers Kawara packages with the canvases. The most prominent case holds a series of paintings and newspapers leading up to the day we landed on the moon; I suppose that’s the kind of desperate gimmick one has to use to sell this stuff.

PJ: AFC Associate Editor Whitney Kimball claims she’s avoiding the show. I haven’t seen the show, but I’m not an On Kawara fan either, so I haven’t gone out of my way to see it.

Nick Mauss at 303 Gallery, installation view

Nick Mauss at 303 Gallery, installation view

Nick Mauss, 303 Gallery –

WB: It looks like paper, but it’s not! It’s actually forgettable, pessimistic sculpture, mainly in folded and bent aluminum, without presence or purpose; the images screenprinted onto many of the works make a valiant attempt at attracting contemplation, but cannot make up for the simple failure of these forms. Two works, Room in a Seashell and Illuminated Margin, share a visual proportion that I’m sure I’ve seen somewhere, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

PJ: I totally agree. Also, has anyone else noticed that 303 Gallery always fills the same back-left corner with a bunch of strewn material? Well, maybe not always, but I’m reminded of the Karen Kilmnick show last year, which similarly had a bunch of stuff strewn along the floor. Meh.

Damien Hirst, Gagosian –

WB: Actually, it’s really impressive seeing Gagosian’s 21st Street space looking so huge. Forget everything Hirst has ever said and these become solid B-grade pseudo-Op Art; no revelations, but you don’t mind looking at them.

PJ: The space on 21st Street is far superior to their installation on 24th, which, were it not for the merch store, could be skipped entirely. There’s far too much work on 24th Street, and I don’t like the dot paintings where the dots run off the side of the canvas, or in the case of the tondos, seem shmushed inside the frame. It just looks sloppy.

I’d like to see a designer talk about these paintings, since they seem to fit more squarely into the field of marketing and design than they do fine art. Just because there’s a little bit of varnish on a few of these dots doesn’t mean Hirst is exploring paint and surface in any way.

Mat Collishaw at Tanya Bonakdar, installation view

Mat Collishaw at Tanya Bonakdar, installation view

Mat Collishaw, Tanya Bonakdar –
PJ: Man, this show sure did suck. The Gothic bar food cum 17th-Century-style Dutch paintings were kind of funny until I read they were the last meals of men on Death Row. Then it read as calculated art bullshit that does more to trivialize these final dinners than shed light on social mores.

Then there was the genetically modified resin flowers and video flower alter. I’ve never cared about religion less.

WB: I liked the plants. It’s hard to make something at all appealing when it looks like it’s probably sticky.


Michelle Hunter February 9, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Always tons of new art to see each week in Chelsea and all can fell into categories of OMG WOW, good, bad, ugly and huh? I’m certainly fortunate to have opportunities each week to see as much as my feet can handle. I go to lots of openings but of what I’ve seen this year so far, my favs were (you can check out pics on my yfrog account http://www.yfrog.com/user/artcoholic/photos):

– Ayad Alkadhi at Leslie Heller Gallery
– Hyemi Cho at Nancy Margolis Gallery
– The “Resolved” show at  Joshua Liner
– Dongwook Lee “Love Me Tender” at DOOSAN Gallery
– Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook’s “Two Planets/Village and Elsewhere” at Tyler Rollins Fine Art
– Leonardo Pereznieto’s work in   “BEYOND REALITY”  at Able Fine Art
– “Voices of Home” at Jenkins Johnson Gallery
– “End of Days” at Mixed Greens Gallery
– Jazz-Minh Moore’s “Is That all There Is” at Lyon Wier Gallery
– Will Kurtz’s “Extra F***ing Ordinary” at Mike Weiss Gallery

Have either of you seen any of the above?

Michelle Hunter

art-chelsea.com February 9, 2012 at 5:40 pm

“I suppose that’s the kind of desperate gimmick one has to use to sell this stuff.” – Had the same thought, but according to the gallery nothing in the On Kawara exhibition is for sale. I guess its all just for our viewing pleasure…which sucks for Zwirner because I would have paid close to a milli for the painting of the date I lost my virginity.  Now I’ll just have to commission a student at the SVA to make a replica. 

Sculpturemd February 10, 2012 at 9:31 am

“Man, this show sure did suck.”  Concise and to the point.  Bravo!  And it sure did suck.

billie jean February 10, 2012 at 12:02 pm

i love these review shorties.  it’s a good idea.

Sven February 13, 2012 at 12:20 am

thank you for these, it was a fun read, and needed

Sean Capone February 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm

I saw most of these shows in my last Chelsea go-round. I found it a coincidence how these major galleries were all in lock-step with showing more-or-less conceptual art (the Andrea Rosen show needs to be included in this roundup). I guess it’s cool to force me to pay attention to other aspects of exhibition design, and, um, to gauge the success or failure of how artists’ ideas coalesce into a visually interesting equivalent form, but I ended that afternoon feeling pretty tired and depressed by what I saw…yup

Nycgallerygirl February 21, 2012 at 5:38 pm

I think Motoyuki Daifu at Lombard Fried is worth examining. An uncomfortable view into an intimate home. And sound installations by Swiss artist Zimoun are simple but mesmerizing. I agree about the unfortunate title for Collishaw’s food but the demolished moths were beautiful.

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