“What is the Lost & Found in art? Is there such a place? Is it a state of mind, of curiosity? Existing everywhere at all times? To occasion, over and again, a parallel with life, its flow? The tide comes in and the tide goes out, and what washes up randomly upon the shore? As many go about putting a lost year behind us, we wonder how to find our way back to ourselves, to one another, to those gone. Belongings. What belongs to us, and to whom do we belong? Can a gallery be thought of as a Lost & Found?”
So writes Bob Nickas in the introduction to Lost & Found, a group show open currently at Martos Gallery in New York. Taking the gallery as a site for the reclamation of spare parts and found materials, the show invites a range of artists that work in assemblage and collage, bringing together a body of work by Jessica Diamond, Arnold Kemp, Kayode Ojo, Arthur Simms and Alexandria Smith. Balancing a range of material concerns applied towards a commingling of material and cultural context. Each work uses the combined affect of their varied materials and construction in a manner that allows sudden shifts in tone and understanding, toying with the viewer’s perception of the work.
In one corner, Kayode Ojo’s figurative sculpture creates surrogate feminine bodies of alien glamour, reduced to drapery and flowing blonde hair, bodies with no corporeality save for wardrobe. Assemblages of hair and commercial products, bodies culled from the landscape of consumption dominate, a mixture of fragility and inaccessibility that make the works all the more mysterious. In a similarly interwoven assemblage of bell, horn, toys, and ice skates, artist Arthur Simms explores moments of repose and quiet, a similarly dense body of material. Elsewhere, among Simms’s Black Caravaggio collages (2003-08) there are references to art history and Black history, in one work pairing together the great late 16th/early 17th century painter with the American abolitionist, author, and orator, the former slave Frederick Douglass.
The sensation of cultural collusion and reconsideration is here presented in a manner that equally welcomes and resists attempts at classification. There are threads of political and historical language, tensely balanced against each other. Asking the viewer to negotiate between these threads, and to pluck them out from the lost and found of the show’s titular concept, the gallery offers a strong frame through which to consider the fragmented landscape of history.
The show closes March 13th.
– D. Creahan
Martos Gallery: Lost and Found [Exhibition Site]