While the relationship between painting, sculpture and all that rests in between has long been dissected since the days of Robert Rauschenberg and Donald Judd, the twenty-five artists featured in Lesley Heller Workspace’s summer show “object’hood” have taken up the scalpel. Curated by Inna Babaeva and Gelah Penn, “object’hood” attempts to bring together works that are in a way indeterminable, breaching traditional structures of defined mediums within art and beyond.
Upon entering the gallery, artworks seem to be growing from the walls and floor. As I pass through, a wall-mounted sculpture of melted plastics, expanded foam and resin by Judy Pfaff leers at me; a mass of wood coated in silver leaf by Don Gummer glares down from its place on the wall behind the reception desk—its twisted, geometric forms recalling the Greek Fret. Turning the corner into the back gallery space, a sculpture by Daniel Weiner seeps up from the floor like a toxic waste spill, its form reminiscent a gnarled tree stump one would imagine to be found at Chernobyl, yet stylized—I couldn’t help but to think of an Alexandre Noll coffee table on acid, or dipped in it. Tucked in the corner and hung with neon plastic ties is a mesmerizing, and slightly sentimental, large ring comprised of rows of Disney paper cups by Lisa Hocke. Each cup is tucked into the other, exposing only a portion of the picture. From afar, it is a blur of bright colors and skewed, stretched images. I was left thinking of my childhood dentist and the taste of fluoride.
Turning towards the front of the gallery, I was immediately drawn to a large wooden structure by Harry E. Leigh. At first glance, I believed it to be a white canvas, framed in a light, a cherry hue of wood. The top of the frame curved gracefully out into space. The left side of the frame resembled an arm, the elbow bent, suddenly protruding forward and seemingly grasping the top of a thin, flat piece of wood. The bottom of the frame bent outwards as well, clutching the bottom portion of the wooden fragment held by the opposing side.
Upon closer inspection, I realized there was no canvas; it was simply the wooden structure installed on the wall. The shadows of the 3D frame thinly sliced through small segments of the pure, white backdrop, infiltrating the space beyond the defined frame. As visitors moved about, their shadows would, however fleeting, become a part of the “painting.” The contingency of the work was fascinating; its aesthetic was most dependent on its environment and those interacting with it. This high level of contingency combined with the artist’s inability to, at a certain point, control the visual experience that occurs within the defined borders of the art begs the question: When does the viewer become the dictator of the work, and when does the environment itself? I was reminded of Rauschenberg’s early White Paintings, building dust and conforming to—reflecting—the conditions of its environment. However, this time, the work itself is enveloped within the space, rather than simply being a product of such.
Artists: Rachel Beach, Katie Bell, Isidro Blasco, Nicole Cherubini, Martha Clippinger, Joy Curtis, Matthew Deleget, Peter Dudek, Kate Gilmore, Don Gummer, Mike Hein, Elana Herzog, Lisa Hoke, Chistopher Joy, Harry E. Leigh, Elisa Lendvay, Doreen McCarthy,Shelia Pepe, Sarah Peters, Judy Pfaff, Don Porcaro, Elise Siegel, Kirk Stoller, Daniel Wiener, Letha Wilson
July 22, 2015 to August 21, 2015
Lesley Heller Workspace
54 Orchard Street
New York, NY 10002 +1.212.410.6120
Writing by Madeleine Mermall
Photographs provided by the gallery, the artist and Arte Fuse