Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Chelsea Gallery: Marianne Boesky

Let loose for the day to explore the galleries of Chelsea, I made sure I went to as many as I could stand before my feet started yelling at me. Before I made a B-line for the train, I told myself “Just one more!” and that is how I happened upon the Marianne Boesky gallery, which was showing works by Melissa Gordon.

On my way into the inner room, I stumbled upon one piece in particular that immediately spoke to me. It was as if the artist had taken an etching of mine and brought it into the three dimensional realm. This piece consisted of a print stretched on canvas, accompanied by two colored shapes being held up on skinny black poles at different distances in front of the print.

When I finally decided that, maybe I should see what the next room contains, I found several different groups of people circling the room together. One was an old Asian couple. Another was a mom pushing a stroller. I stood in the doorway for a minute just to observe these people’s reactions.

I have to admit that not all of her pieces struck me in the same manner, but they certainly seemed to delight the crowd, weaving around her geometric forms until they finally meet the canvas face to face, nodding and pointing at what they noticed. Realizing the time, I hastily took some photos with my not-so-great camera, and went on home. Later I realized we would be going to that same gallery as a group, and got very excited for my seemingly ahead-of-the-curve experience.

When we finally did meet back there as a group, I learned that we would in fact be inquiring a different artist. I was a little miffed I would not get to meet the likes of Melissa Gordon, but I put those thoughts aside and, with a curious eye, began to explore the work of Anthony Pearson.

Anthony’s works harmoniously resided together in a room off to the side of the gallery, which I hadn’t even noticed before. Amidst these pieces was one that was not his: a work by an Arte Povera artist, which was composed of a large sheet of metal behind a panel of glass. This piece worked very well hung up with the rest, but its place there still puzzled me, considering the history of Arte Povera and what we later learned about Anthony’s work. Not to mention the sheer fact that you don’t normally see a set up like this. Did his gallery curator just not want to leave the wall blank? I admired Anthony for his honesty; in telling us his work was primarily for selfish reasons. But all through the talk, the presence of this slightly more impressive object of immateriality haunted me.

There were however, some curious similarities between his work and the Arte Povera piece. For his photographs, Anthony used reflective glass in the frames, a common technique I have noticed in Arte Povera that causes the viewer to not be able to escape becoming a part of the work. Other themes in his work seemed strikingly opposite of Arte Povera: the luxury of photography, the complexity in the making of his sculptures, and the general amount of resources available to him to be able to make his art.

Despite my mixed feelings on the presentation of his art, Anthony Pearson had a lot to share with us about going about being an artist, and staying true to your motives for making art. For him, his art is about constantly making and improving, with the eventual goal of just being a good, successful artist. We all have our motives for doing what we enjoy doing, and if we happen to make money from doing it, that’s just luck.

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