Vito Schnabel’s private exhibition space in the West Village was the place to be last Thursday, where a number of recognizable faces joined the colorful crowd at Theo A. Rosenblum’s third solo exhibit with Schnabel, Predator. In attendance were Vito Schnabel hosting the night, artists such as Alex Katz & Dan Colen, and the illustrious Jeffrey Deitch, who the AF crew got the chance to speak with; he said that he was “very happy to be home.” It’s nice to have you back as well, Mr. Deitch!
The space itself seemed to be decorated to match Rosenblum’s pieces: the doorframes and window frames are painted black, and even the blinds in the windows are black. These happen to be permanent details, but set the mood for Rosenblum’s dark, death-centric pieces.
These wall-mounted sculptures made from resin clay tell a story around the room, a story of death and reanimation—or at least that’s how I took it. The artist said there’s no specific story being told, but that the viewer could create one if he or she wanted to. I wanted to. The story starts within the pupil of the huge eye, where a finger presses a doomsday-looking-button that causes the mushroom cloud seen on the adjacent wall. After the mushroom cloud clears, a hand reaches out from within a coffin, ultimately breaking into a house in the woods, and then busting out the back wall to walk away in the night, leaving only creepily bare footprints.
But that’s just my take, and it’s not the whole story! The pieces are all connected, not only by death, but by their details. In between the melee of the mushroom cloud and the breaking-and-entering, the artist focuses on small moments: a much-larger-than-life rat caught in a trap, perhaps on its way to being fed to the snake seen on opposing walls; in one sculpture, the snake is coiled on the wall for mere decoration, but in the other sculpture, a rat is being lowered down to the snake for mealtime. There’s also the worm poking out of an apple, which might have first been chewing on the corpse seen covered in and filled with worms. Is this the same corpse that rose from the dead? It’s hard to say.
The show was quite clearly focused on death: there was even a skull floating above the other sculptures, looking down as a reminder of what awaits us all. But this show seemed to be less about fearing death, than about finding ways to make fun of death: the sculptures are realistic in that they are recognizable forms, but they are more cartoons than biologically-accurate sculptures. A feeling of darkness and death hovers over the show like the skull, but the expression on the rat’s face, although it’s about to be trapped, is kind of funny. The bottle of poison dripping down the wall looks like something out of a Looney Toons episode. Rosenblum finds a way to entertain his viewers, keeping the mood somehow light even while there are reminders of death all around the room.
Theo A. Rosenblum: Predator / On View: January 17–February 13, 2014
Gallery Hours: Tuesday through Saturday (11am – 6pm)
Vito Schnabel. 43 Clarkson Street NYC, NY 10014
Art review by: Grace Moss
Photography by: Olya Turcihin