Artist Stewart Uoo has opened a show of new works at 47 Canal this month, presenting a body of works unified by their explorations of tension and harmony amidst the bustling landscape of New York City. The works on view, a selection of various materials resembling street-side detritus, are spread across an elevated tableau in the gallery, creating a personified sense of the block as body.
Uoo’s works in the exhibition are coy material inversions, arrangements meant to conjure the familiar landscape of the street in a meticulous, but ghostly iteration. Covering body parts and animals, cast off materials and street signs with repetitive patterns and lush pink pastels, hinted at in the press release as a reference to the modern mythologization of prescription drugs and other products in millennial marketing plans, Uoo invites the street into a direct commingling with the colors and materials so often laid atop it. The works employ what are described as “balmy tropes of generational burnout, layering them atop naturally occurring comforts with which this burned-out generation regularly interfaces.”
Framed as a dream space, a moment’s reflection mirroring the experience of walking amidst commercial colors, manufactured spaces, contexts built rather than assembled, Uoo’s pieces and general scenes here create a sense of a world dominated by the subtle psychological effects of a world under immense, unspoken stress. Bodies and minds come apart at the seams to create strange accumulations of parts and pieces, flat surfaces are dotted with leaves to match that of cast-off tires and other materials, bearing resemblance to Ginkgo leaves and pigeon feathers are artificialized on surfaces, echoing the decorative motifs they unintentionally produce in countless images of Brooklyn streets. Statues and found objects reconstitute artifacts of familiarity in high-gloss or fine finishes. Resin-cast pieces are hollow by design—a traffic cone, a tire, a fire hydrant, a newspaper bag—promising safety with their emptiness, or their availability to be filled.
Uoo’s world is that of a body in space, but equally a space that seems increasingly emptied out by the confusion of its perpetuation. What is left of a past world, he seems to ask, and how much longer can these artifacts persist?
The show closes March 2oth.
– D. Creahan
47 Canal [Exhibition Site]