It started late and ended early—Chelsea’s lack of eateries and bathrooms, why dost thou forsake me?—so here are only a few picks and reports:
Dan McCarthy’s text paintings
Shoot the Lobster inside Martos Gallery on 28th Street
Absurd texts like “DEPECH MODE” (sic) are painted with a round brush in large, cartoonish scripts. However, the paintings are smooth, matte, and flat. Like weather-worn signage, the image seems ground down to the gesso underneath—they are mostly white, with the color appearing as artifacts of brushstrokes. Perhaps the artist achieved the effect with the use of resist, sanding or both. Yet the work feels fresh, and not overworked or precious. The way the text is off just a bit, and the surprise that such a flat surface can be tactile and appealing, made for an interesting experience for me.
Song Dong’s Doing Nothing Book pages
Pace Gallery, 25th Street
Dong wrote a text about doing nothing, yet having to do it, then sent it to translation services. He then presented their translations (and mis-translations), often on their company letterhead, in the exhibition. The results where sometimes practical, sometimes attempting philosophical tones, and mostly far-off.
Odd iceberg-like sculptures out of drywall (with electrical outlets) or tiled walls (with showerheads) and window frames nearby were interestingly strange forms.
Dieter Roth. Björn Roth
Hauser & Wirth, 18th Street
Hauser & Wirth’s much hyped, new space was massive and spectacular, but the work was almost* all not my taste. The disparate materials and forms seem like so much to pull together, then there’s all the smears, dust, blotches, pours, I guess you could say the ooziness, seems repellant on a visceral level, and then it actually became repellant via the aroma of chocolate. At first, it was heavenly, and I wondered why the workers casting chocolate and sugar sculptures looked so angry. After I re-entered the gallery and the waft hit me anew to the effect of nausea, I understood.
Martin Creed’s entrance installation at Hauser & Wirth
This makes sense now!
*I did love one work: the hallway installation made of vertical stripes of hundreds of different kinds of two-inch tapes, films and fabrics. There was Painter’s tape, duct tape, holographic films, calendared vinyls, retro-reflective materials, caution tapes, hook-and-loop tapes, adhesive foam, novelty tapes like camouflage. The overall effect was colorful, like visual candy. But the materials were quotidian and recognizable. I love that such common materials, used in such a simple gesture, can create such an uncommon, delightful experience. That leap seems like magic to me, and I hope to achieve and explore that in my own work. There was so much to look at and appreciate. For example, the mylar tapes took up the pebbly texture of the wall, resulting in distorted reflections. There was fleecy flannel that I was dying to touch. The inclusion of adhesive foam—a utilitarian and not visual tape—was humorous. And many of the calendared vinyls, retro-reflectives, and holographic films are not typically available in two-inch rolls—they were probably cut painstakingly by hand, or (probably) at much expense on a vinyl plotter. I spent a lot of time looking at the individual stripes as well as the overall whole.