New York – “Sculpture” at Matthew Marks Gallery Through April 19th, 2014

March 24th, 2014

Katharina Fritsch, St. Michael (2008), via Matthew Marks
Katharina Fritsch, St. Michael (2008), via Matthew Marks

Simple yet explanatory, Sculpture is Matthew Marks Gallery’s current exhibition, bringing together the most recent three dimensional works by artists Katharina Fritsch, Robert Gober, Jasper Johns, Charles Ray, Ellsworth Kelly and Martin Puryear. Adopting the newest in the medium as its main concept, this group exhibition presents an opportunity for gallery goers to view and compare current modalities in the art of sculpture.

Sculpture (Installation View), via Matthew Marks
Sculpture (Installation View), via Matthew Marks

Arranged in a neat and undisturbed fashion between two adjoining rooms, each sculpture finds its value and meaning in this small but strong exhibition. Doing the justice to its title, every piece stands out as the result of meticulous craft and artistic notion, while equally orchestrating a distinctive aesthetic together.  Among the larger pieces in Sculpture, Martin Puryear’s Question captures attention with its abstract yet familiar form. Giving the impression of a gigantic question mark (not so subtly hinted by its title and the curvy form), the sculpture suggests a full circular tour around itself while dropping a “big question mark” into the viewers’ minds, waiting to be answered.

Robert Gober, Untitled (1993-2013), via Matthew Marks
Robert Gober, Untitled (1993-2013), via Matthew Marks

Charles Ray’s humorous and witty work Sunflower Relief , sitting nearby, is a machined, solid-aluminum form of a garden center seed packet. Playing on the word ‘relief’ by referring to both of its meanings, Ray makes a commentary on the materialization of high art as he neutralizes the meaning of the word. The sculptural technique of antiquity is contrasted with its primary meaning in the English language, asking questions about the reassuring aspect of art, and the occasional absolutism applied to the formats and techniques of contemporary practice.

Charles Ray, Sunflower relief (2011), via Matthew Marks
Charles Ray, Sunflower relief (2011), via Matthew Marks

Another work that takes its roots from the antiquity is Katharina Fritsch’s St. Michael, a life sized monochromatic form that presents an angel killing a demonic creature. A very common imagery in the history of art and mythology, the icon is revived in a comical, polyester form, and left a monochromatic dark green. Similar to Fritsch’s previous sculptures present at MoMA’s Sculpture Garden and London’s Fourth Plinth, the artist’s investigation and challenge to the iconographic tropes of Western sculpture is evident.

Martin Puryear, Question (2013-2014), via Matthew Marks
Martin Puryear, Question (2013-2014), via Matthew Marks

While each piece in the exhibition is charged with a certain humorous aspect, Robert Gober’s Untitled surely takes this prompt to its fullest. A crib with a gigantic stick of butter, surrounded by golden apples brings certain domestic elements unexpectedly together in a reckless and daring way, and challenges the limits of repulsiveness and reasoning. On the other hand, by placing a stick of butter where a baby sleeps, the artist also provokes an argument on the domestic life style of the traditional family.

Occasionally confounding and consistently engaging, Sculpture in on view at Matthew Marks Gallery through April 19th, 2014.

Sculpture (Installation View), via Matthew Marks
Sculpture (Installation View), via Matthew Marks

Jasper Johns, 0-9 (2009-2012), via Matthew Marks
Jasper Johns, 0-9 (2009-2012), via Matthew Marks

—O.C. Yerebakan

Read more:
Sculpture at Matthew Marks [Matthew Marks]