Over the past few decades, B. Wurtz’s work has mined a striking juxtaposition of materials and symbols, mixing together domestic objects, quotidian references and various spatial interruptions designed to work at the fabric of the object itself. This month, the artist has returned to Metro Pictures for a show of new works, continuing this mode of practice on an engaging scale.
Coinciding with Kitchen Trees, the artist’s major installation for Public Art Fund at City Hall Park in lower Manhattan, “Domestic Space” at Metro Pictures includes new large-scale sculptures and photographic works printed on fabric. While Wurtz is known for his carefully assembled sculptures made from simple objects and household materials, the works on view here demonstrate the post-conceptual broadening of art inherent to the artist’s long-standing practice. Playing with scale, perspective, and various media, he continues to mine the full potential of household objects and materials, testing aesthetic principles and notions of intrinsic value with humor and insight. This will be Wurtz’s first exhibition at the gallery since 2013.
This show features a string of Wurtz’s Photo/Object works, first begun in 1987, and consisting of a sculptural object paired with a photograph of that object. The comparison in scale and shape based on the angles of capture and the lighting of the work crates a spatial dissonance that the artist seems to always have in mind. Working through the scale and shape of images as a way of both abstracting the viewer from their original size and use, Wurtz allows the viewer to move back and forth, comparing and contrasting each understanding of the form. Three new large photographs printed on canvas, each featuring enlarged food and drink containers, are hung on the walls behind a selection of captivating new tabletop sculptures made from discarded everyday items. Elsewhere, new free-standing cubic sculptures serve as both a container and a stage for a group of modest household objects—plastic bags, wire, socks, buttons, and dish towels—exactingly arranged in deliberate yet whimsical compositions. Hanging on the wall behind them is a new series of photographs of domestic textiles printed on fabric, which is inspired by Wurtz’s 2009 photographic piece titled Dirty Laundry––an image of a pile of laundry printed on translucent fabric. The works are hung from rods like a tapestry, inviting comparison between the things themselves and the objects they represent.
Modern labor and its tools are central to the concept here, a dialogue on the implements and elements of various tools as they converge in the understanding of the user. Wurtz seems to understand implicitly that the use of the tool, the tactile confines and shape of its fit in the hand, ultimately contributes to the viewer’s total understanding. Here, repositioning these elements at both a micro and macro scale, he seeks to open whole new worlds of understanding.
— C. Reinhart
Metro Pictures [Exhibition Site]