On view this month at Andrew Kreps in New York, artist Uri Aran opens a presentation of new works united under the enigmatic title I’m a Restaurant. Exploring pluralities of voice, modalities of form, and a perspective on narrative and the artist that invites vagaries and unclear frameworks.Aran leaves exposed the threads of the mysterious, unstable process by which parts turn to wholes, drawing on traditions of assemblage, ready-made, and process art to create works that are ambiguous and ever-shifting, changing with each viewer, with each viewing.
Language runs throughout Aran’s works – explicitly so, in the forms of text and recorded speech, but also invisibly, as a structure and subject. His sculptures, paintings, and videos draw from a broadly defined alphabet of forms and gestures, an idiosyncratic vocabulary of things. They seem to reverse the typical semantic flow, in which a word stands for a thing. Instead, familiar objects function as stand-ins for their own names.The works’ unvarnished appearance belies Aran’s meticulousness and attention to craft. Drawing is the essential mode of making for his practice, and he strives to maintain its sense of quickness – its closeness to an idea or impulse – in all his works. He moves freely across genre and media: within paintings, a reference to Cezanne still life sits comfortably and quietly in a field of abstraction, while graphite streaks overlay layers of oil.
A sense of comedy, both slapstick and deadpan, permeates the exhibition. But melancholy easily coexists with playfulness: a silly or cute moment can also feel heartbreaking. Aran destabilizes a fundamental hierarchy, moving the non-human to the level of the human: where an actual dog can only hold one feeling at a time, people have the unique ability to experience discordant emotions simultaneously. These are images of both literal and conceptual “projection,” extracting new values and understandings from each viewer.
In each mode, Aran seems to delve into the work as a site of both difficult questions and confounding truths. It closes July 7th.
– D. Creahan
Uri Aran: I’m a Restaurant [Exhibition Site]