O’Flaherty’s, the gallery project of painter Jamian Juliano-Villani, has, in its short time, has built a reputation for challenging and engaging shows, operating a program that has made the small gallery a central voice in the representation of young artists and historically resonant projects overlooked by larger galleries. It should be no surprise then, that the pioneering space would take an equally iconoclastic and engaged approach to the summer groups show, lampooning the format with The Patriot, an open call exhibition that has packed the gallery to the gills with art for the past month.
The show operates from a central conceit: no one really likes being included in a summer group show. The press materials and gallery messaging matches that notion, meditating on disrespectful gallery treatment, poor representation and the glut of works on view. But instead of solving the problem, the gallery just takes that logic to its extreme, allowing anyone and everyone submitting space for their work, and little more. Entering the gallery, one is greeted with an overwhelming scope of works, with paintings crammed together and filling every square inch of the space. It’s a compelling visual, with works of varying quality, focus and concept contending for the viewer’s attention. Cartoonish compositions sit alongside deconstructions and abstract swirls of paint, while elsewhere, video works sit amid a heap of paintings, and in another corner, books and sculpture are placed upon the same pedestal.
The show makes much of the notion of disrespect and scale, of the group show as a site for a gallery to lazily represent a range of artists and works or move long-held back stock, but the show here manages to also make a compelling statement on the depth of talent and vision among the city’s young guard of artists. Unlike other shows representing a city’s talent, like Whitechapel Gallery’s current London Open, the show here allows a view of a city’s expansive artist community, warts and all, a view of art the forgoes curation in favor of presentation, and makes a statement of its own regarding taste, focus and meaning.
The show closes August 10th.
– D. Creahan
O’Flaherty’s [Exhibition Site]