Summer is the “off season” for the contemporary art world in New York. Galleries close on weekends and mount group exhibitions that showcase several represented artists at once, host artists from other galleries, or experiment with new talent, generally centered around a theme.
Hiding in the Lower East Side this summer are four magical artworks in two different group shows that are even more surprising with closer inspection.
Two front-facing chairs dissolve into one another in an abstract matrix of geometry. Mashing futuristic forms with the natural patina of time, the sculpture plays between past and future, design and art. Notice that both chairs are missing a leg, each relying on the other for upright support.
A few blocks away, Cornelia Parker’s “Unsettled” rests at the entrance of Perrotin Gallery, part of the group show “Fond Illusions”. Most visitors rush past, not noticing that NOTHING IS TOUCHING THE FLOOR. Each scrap of wood, found on the streets of Jerusalem, is suspended by dozens of wires, floating both above the floor and off the wall.
Alicja Kwade’s “Ein Jahar” also demands close inspection. The large 6½ x 10 foot frame holds nearly 9000 tiny brass clock hands that together represent EVERY hour in a year (the title “Ein Jahr” is German for “One Year”), in a single chronological line, snaking back and forth from top left to the bottom right.
Finally, back at Pierogi Gallery, a small lens, not much larger than 3 inches across, is quietly embedded into a back corner wall at eye level. A work by Patrick Jacobs, the lens reveals an impossible bathroom in a room that can’t exist. In reality, the perfectly sculpted bathroom model is about 9 inches deep (including the far-reaching landscape through the window) and 14 inches wide. Particularly impressive is the door within the room, that IS NOT A MIRROR: Patrick sculpted a SECOND toilet, distorted like a reflection, that is placed beyond a clear film.
When a “group show” is done right, it offers a mini-rollercoaster of diverse ideas, scales, and materials that are held together by a theme, but also hide tiny and delightful surprises along the way.
All images photographed by the author, David Behringer.