Matthias Bitzer’s solo show Saturnine Swing at Marianne Boesky uptown garnered a blurb review from Roberta Smith in last weeks “Art Galleries of New York” spectacular (more Time Out New York style than Gray Lady). The uptown Boesky space is a lovely classic townhouse. All rickety stairs, parquet floors and big open Edward Hopper windows. Last Month I saw Diana Al-Hadid’s show which was sad and incongruous in the space, but Bitzer’s show feels rightly wrong here. Juxtaposition isn’t the right phrase because it is a too easy shorthand for the handmade slickness of the exhibition.
Bitzer’s work is a combination of trends and methods. Wall drawings, paintings with bright geometric colors patterned over portraits, dangling sculpture with lights, collaged materials with repetitive shapes, found images mounted in frames (mounted and viewed from the side, and interchangeable) and a beautiful free standing multicolored hoop. Bitzer doesn’t give us a signature style and for that I applaud him. The ideas all connect even if they seem overly polished and art fair ready. It may be unclear but I liked this show.
The connections throughout that bind the work together begin with the sculpture Portal, 2014. It is the guiding focus of this show. While it is the least flashy thing here, the metal hoop, nearly 6 feet high left an enduring impression. The metal is painted burberry beige with a section of black and just a bit of red. It’s static and defying gravity in an old parlor room. Its a trick. A slight of hand to confuse us and maybe, as the title suggests, the portal that we enter to become part of his vision.
All things after Portal seem built of it’s DNA, with the lines of color stretching out over surfaces in sculpture and paintings. A wall drawing is made of tiny graphite lines that turn the wall into a very subtle optical illusion. Another piece focuses on a collection of hung work, some framed, attached to the wall with drawings and a trompe l’oeil style interwoven lattice.
Finally, Phosphor Notes (The Shoals’ Archives III), 2014, which consists of frames, mounted from their sides with a long cleat on the wall. Each shadow box contains an image or some text. The viewer is invited (with the help of gallery staff) to see images by taking a section out of the hanging work and moving it. This takes the idea of this Judd-like wall mounted sculpture and makes it more dynamic. The ever changing structure of the piece leads to questions about viewing by making the frame the art and vice versa.
Bitzer stands alone here. Howard Hodgkin paints his frames and Seurat did too. Bitzer makes several pieces with finely painted frames but here the frames are the work, it’s structure and it’s surface. It is a far cry from the Portal, but the never ending loop and the interchangeable frames trade in variability and cycles. All of this, outside of the white cube and in a lovely old house, makes for a memorable experience.