New York: “Puddle, Pothole, Portal” Curated by Ruba Katrib and Camille Henrot at SculptureCenter Through January 5th, 2015

November 17th, 2014

Mick Peter
Mick Peter, all photos via Sophie Kitching for Art Observed

The newly re-opened SculptureCenter in Long Island City has earned a reputation for forward-thinking exhibitions and thematic concerns, opening new dialogues between the constructed, three-dimensional object and its related artistic formats.  It’s perhaps highly fitting then, that the exhibition space’s newest show, and its first since its impressive renovation, would focus specifically on these links of space and form.

Olga Balema, Long Arm 2 (2013)
Olga Balema, Long Arm 2 (2013)

Curated by Ruba Katrib and artist Camille Henrot, the exhibition, titled Puddle, Pothole, Portal, is a nuanced exploration of links between the purely sculptural, and a number of hybrid forms currently populating the space of contemporary artistic production.  Paintings, drawings and sketches sit alongside surreal built environments, juxtaposed against less recognizable formats like Jordan Wolfson’s bumper sticker clad panels (half painting, half sculptural assemblage), or Mick Peter’s standing drawings (flat panel pieces set in space like cardboard displays).

Win McCarthy (2014)
Win McCarthy

Saul Steinberg
Saul Steinberg

Throughout, notions of the cartoonish and the surreal are left relatively indistinct, and many of the sculptural inversions on view, like Olga Balema’s Long Arm 2, seem to borrow heartily from both the languages of pop culture and formal art practice in equal measure.  It’s a similar situation with the work of painter Jamian Juliano-Villani, whose carefully crafted canvases are like few others, seamless conflations of surrealist technique dressed in the imagery and iconography of seminal alt-cartoonists like Ralph Bakshi.  Here, an awareness of multiple histories, spaces and identities come to the fore, set off against each other by a careful negotiation of space and construction.

Lucie Stahl, Untitled (Mega Foxy) (2014)
Lucie Stahl, Untitled (Mega Foxy) (2014)

Judith Hopf, Flog of Sheep (2014)
Judith Hopf, Flog of Sheep (2014)

On the other end of the show are works that borrow heavily from conventional, three-dimensional forms, pieces firmly rooted in “real” space, or which take this root as a point of departure.  Win McCarthy’s works, for instance, take the objects of contemporary interior design, and places them into absurd positions, either suspended in action, or lent a certain degree of absurdity by their pairing with a silicone material hung sloppily over the work.

Jordan Wolfson, Untitled (2014)
Jordan Wolfson, Untitled (2014)

Danny McDonald, A Grim Forecast (2014)
Danny McDonald, A Grim Forecast (2014)

What’s perhaps most interesting here is this concept of space as illusion, of the idea of the cartoon or the surrealist break as model for an expansion of depth and perception beyond human rationality.  Addressing the spatial logic of modernity through plainly presented objects, the exhibition offers a constant state of flux, forcing a reappraisal of the object, and the state of reality to which it may actually belong.

Puddle, Pothole, Portal is on view through January 5th.

Camille Blatrix, Key #1 (2014)
Camille Blatrix, Key #1 (2014)

Antoine Catala (2014)
Antoine Catala, ‘>(///)<‘  , ‘(::()::)’ , ‘:)’ , ‘</3′ (2014)

Jamian Juliano-Villani, Roommate Trouble (2014)
Jamian Juliano-Villani, Roommate Trouble (2014)

— D. Creahan

Read more:
“Puddle, Pothole, Portal at SculptureCenter” [SculptureCenter]
“The Art of Funny: Cartoon Imagery, Often With an Edge” [New York Times]
“SculptureCenter Inaugurates Newly Renovated Space With ‘Puddle, Pothole, Portal'” [Forbes]
“SculptureCenter Reopens With “Puddle, Pothole, Portal” [Whitewall]
“Slideshow: “Puddle, Pothole, Portal” at SculptureCenter” [Art Info]