The group show is a sleazy orgy. It’s a mess of people, unfamiliar with the viewer and possibly one another. They are lumped together by fate or gallery rosters or necessity or a conceit. These are not bad things, so please don’t read a judgement into this. I mean we are visual people, we are art voyeurs. Just accept that you are a little sleazier than you thought you were.
What other art has this type of grouping together of artists? The concert festival that lumps musicians into an event based on genre or hipness is a similar affair. SXSW or Pitchfork or Coachella or a cooler one they don’t tell people over 30 about. Old school hip hop, classic reggae, new rockabilly tinged pop for a “curated event”. There’s only so many ways you can make stuff go together so that it makes sense to other people. Our eyes and ears seek out what we find pleasing and maybe along the way you’ll realize you should have been listening to Zappa all the years you were digging The Flaming Lips.
I approach group shows the way I do art fairs, as fact finding missions. Scoop up the stuff I like, take a note and move forward. This past week in Chelsea there were many group shows to see. I can’t say I saw them all, but here are some things not to miss.
James Busby in Happy Flies Kissing Beautiful Face at Stux Gallery. The show is Black and White and confused all over (really couldn’t help myself) yet it contained some beautiful work. Busby was a stand out. His surfaces of built up and incised gesso or layered graphite takes a cue from minimalism to create sculptural, dense works that happen to be white, gray or black. Takesada Matsutani, an artist I got to know through recent Gutai exhibitions, shows well here with Busby and makes me think this might have been an excellent two person show. Oh and David Shrigley has the last laugh (the first as well since its the first thing you see) with a black spiral that states LOOK AT ME.
Robert Miller’s 5 Rooms has some nice work with standout work by Joan Banach and Mark Fox. Banach gives us dense, dark geometric abstraction, seemingly shrouded by night. Fox’s sculptures are bright and allow light to flow through. Corrugated cardboard is painted and stacked. Here is another missed opportunity for a two person show.
Zwirner’s Folk Devil is a mixed bag. Brian Griffiths massive canvas covered teddy bear head The Body and Ground (Or Your Brittle Smile), 2010 feels familiar and sad. I know this memorialized Teddy. Marlene Dumas is the single best entry here. Lynn Chadwick and Franz West are beautiful as well but Jason Rhodes, Ryan McGinley and many others disappoint. It’s the nature of these things, though who could be better suited for a orgy than Ryan McGinley’s scampering nymphs.
Articles of interest:
LACMA’s Blog post lists the overwhelming presence of LA area artists in NY and beyond. (I love that the overarching theme of this post is how impressive it is that SO many shows of LA artists make it to NY!)
And a few things here you may not know about:
MoMA Oral History Initiative (I really like this Robert Rauschenberg, Joachim Pissarro interview)
Creative Time Reports http://creativetimereports.org/
Thelma Golden’s TED talk from 2010