Decoy Study (Duck), 2014. (re-)carved duck decooy

Decoy Study (Duck), 2014. (re-)carved duck decooy

Summer is the “off season” for the New York art world. The galleries that remain open typically mount group shows, often with guest curators rather than the massive single artist features shown during the rest of the year. For New Yorkers who can’t escape to cooler and less humid skies (like me!), it’s a great time to check out tons of underrepresented artists.

My favorite on view now is Maskull Lasserre, a sculptor who RE-carves discarded sculptures. Three of his works are on view at Junior Projects in a group show titled “Regular JOhn” curated by Jim Lee, an artist I’ve enjoyed for years.

Shaman Anatomy, 2014.  (re-)carved South American shaman bust

Shaman Anatomy, 2014. (re-)carved South American shaman bust

Shaman Anatomy (detail)

Shaman Anatomy (detail)

Shaman Anatomy (detail)

Shaman Anatomy (detail)

Maskull Lasserre finds old wood sculptures on sidewalks or in thrift stores and, by removing just a tiny amount of material in precisely the right spots, reveals an internal bone and muscle structure WHICH NEVER ACTUALLY EXISTED! Michelangelo’s philosophy of freeing something trapped in the marble rather than creating it comes to mind, but realizing that idea on someone else’s sculpture takes this to a whole new level.

Decoy Study (Duck), (detail)

Decoy Study (Duck), (detail)

Decoy Study (Duck), (detail)

Decoy Study (Duck), (detail)

Lasserre’s skill as a carver is unmatched, but it’s his ability to look at the mundane and see complexity, to transform an anonymous object into an eerily real “living” thing, and to elevate something that no one wanted into something extremely precious… all by REMOVING pieces of it, is mind-blowing.

Souvenir Skelton, 2014. (re-)carved African drummer figure

Souvenir Skelton, 2014. (re-)carved African drummer figure

Souvenir Skelton (detail)

Souvenir Skelton (detail)

Souvenir Skelton (detail)

Souvenir Skelton (detail)

"Regular JOhn" installation at Junior Projects

“Regular JOhn” installation at Junior Projects

Great art changes how you see the world forever. Today is garbage day in Queens, and on my walk to coffee this morning I saw a broken yard gnome on the sidewalk… and I paused. Thanks to Lasserre, I will never see a duck decoy or any other piece of “thrift shop” sculpture the same ever again. That’s amazing.

What: Maskull Lasserre’s “re-sculptures” in “Regular JOhn” curated by Jim Lee”
Where: Junior Projects, 139 Norfolk St, New York NY
When: July 17 – August 22, 2014

All images courtesy Junior Projects, NYC. Detail photographs by the author, David Behringer.