New York – Elaine Lustig Cohen & Heman Chong: “Correspondences” at P! Through June 22nd, 2014

June 20th, 2014

Heman Chong, Mrs. Dalloway (2014), via Art Observed
Heman Chong, Mrs. Dalloway (2014), via Art Observed

On view at P! in New York is two-person exhibition featuring works by Elaine Lustig Cohen and Heman Chong, in which the artists curate and commission works from each other.  The exhibition emphasizes the concept of holding multiple roles within creative work.  Both Lustig Cohen (b. 1927) and Chong (b. 1977) have worked in a variety of different positions and roles in the art world, including artist, designer, curator, dealer, and writer, and hold a mutual respect for each other’s work. For the exhibition, this respect played out in the gallery as Chong selected works from Lustig Cohen’s body of paintings, while Cohen commissioned Chong to create nine new pieces within his ongoing series of imagined designs for book jackets.

Elaine Lustig Cohen and Heman Chong, Correspondences (Installation View), via P!
Elaine Lustig Cohen and Heman Chong, Correspondences (Installation View), via P!

Halfway through the exhibition’s run, SculptureCenter curator Ruba Katrib has rehung the works in a way that aims to highlight the balancing act between language and material form. The original hanging of the works was done by Lustig Cohen and Chong themselves, with a concept of conversation and comparing of systems of abstract art making.  The result is a fascinating, fluid exploration of the pair’s work in various combinations and positions.

Two works by Elaine Lustig Cohen, via Art Observed
Two works by Elaine Lustig Cohen, via Art Observed

Taken together, the set of works play off each other quite well.  Lustig Cohen’s geometric forms and sharp, colorful lines work in counterpoint to Chong’s often slurred, blurry styles, but his occasionally form-focused approach to some of his works locks his work back into a more unified presentation.  The flow and exchange, particularly when repositioned by Katrib, gives the respective works ample room for dialogue.

Heman Chong, My Name is Red (2014)
Heman Chong, My Name is Red (2014), via P!

The space of P! gallery, with its windowed partitions and ample corners, makes for an even more interesting experience, where works are either set apart from each other or placed into close proximity, with the two different approaches garnering impressive results together.  Work clusters together, or leads the viewer around tight corners, often bringing them face to face with works in another room or section of the space.

Elaine Lustig Cohen and Heman Chong, Correspondences (Installation View), via P!
Elaine Lustig Cohen and Heman Chong, Correspondences (Installation View), via P!

Taken as a whole, the exhibition is an interesting exercise in discovery, welcoming vastly different approaches in a space an exhibition plan that prioritizes free wandering and repeated viewings, as if the works were constantly shifting to find their best configurations.

Correspondences is on view through June 22nd.

Elaine Lustig Cohen and Heman Chong, Correspondences (Installation View), via P!
Elaine Lustig Cohen and Heman Chong, Correspondences (Installation View), via P!

Heman Chong, Night, 2014

The exhibition at P! will continue through June 22nd.

Elaine Lustig Cohen and Heman Chong, Correspondences (Installation View), all images courtesy P!
Elaine Lustig Cohen and Heman Chong, Correspondences (Installation View), via P!

—E. Baker

Related Links:
Exhibition Page [P!]