What I Like in a Show: Nipple Clamps and Pinecone Erections

02/02/2011 4:00 AM |

Murphy’s law dictates that the shows I end up liking will be viewed a week too late to review them for this column. This week’s casualties include Greene Naftali Gallery’s thoughtful group exhibition on film and beauty, Filmschoenheit, and Mitchell-Innes & Nash’s three-person show—featuring Jacob Kassay, Robert Morris and Virginia Overton—exploring negative and positive space.

Technically, Jose Lerma’s solo show I am sorry I am Perry at Andrea Rosen Gallery should be on this list too—it closed January 17—but it’s generated enough buzz to warrant more than a mention. What caused all the excitement? A shimmering reflective curtain hanging in a room permeated by a dim hum was part of it for me. I felt like I was in a magic show. Alongside the drapery, a faceless painted portrait of a 17th-century banker baron rested on top of a keyboard. Looking (and listening) longer, I decided it was better described as the first note of a still-to-be performed opening act; Lerma provided us with no more than a purr in D-minor, weighing a different loose abstract composition in pen on top of two keyboards to create the sound. As for the curtain, what went on behind it we don’t know. Typically used to block light and heat, the surface was so reflective in spots that I was occasionally distracted by my own image.

Three blocks over at The Pace Gallery, something readers can actually see: Tony Feher offers a bunch of hanging latex tubes through February 5. The pieces are filled with colored water, and curled on the floor in circular patterns. They evoke the floor tiling of the Cosmati, a 12th-century family of Roman artists, to much acclaim. Feher’s works have a bit more S&M to them. Large paperclips grip the latex tubes as though they were nipple clamps, and one gets the sense these might be props from the set of risque 1992 flick Tokyo Decadence. As with any orgy, the more tubing there is, the better. A small amount of green tube slinking from one wall to the next doesn’t make the cut, and looks a little too much like a drooping Christmas ornament, even though it provides balance to some of the more patterned pieces.

While in Chelsea, take a look at Nicole Klagsbrun’s Sean Bluechel show (through February 19). The artist has arranged more than thirty ceramic sculptures on seven sawhorse tables, surrounding them with green-, yellow- and orange-toned pictures of balloon clowns and bag faces. What does it mean? I’m not convinced there’s a single narrative interpretation the artist wants us to draw from these works, but he’s definitely interested in creating bizarre human forms. There’s the halo-of-fingers bowl, the brown blob with a pinecone erection and, of course, the round bowl made of leaves with diamond-checkered sticks protruding from all sides. Also, a smiling lump of dough on a napkin, a diseased blue and green pretzel thing, and some dog shit with a heart attached to it. The broadest connection is that the artist is into anthropomorphized objects and enjoys overstating the role his own hand has in the process.

And that’s fine by me. It’s slightly weird, kind of kinky, and open. All of the things I like in a show.

(images courtesy Sean Bluechel and Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery; Jose Lerma and Andrea Rosen Gallery)