SoHo, Saturday afternoon




SoHo, Saturday afternoon. Michael Dvorkin and I decide to check out some galleries at random.

We meet at Deitch, where George Condo presents “Portraits Lost in Space”, a  series of cartoon like large scale portraits. I like the idea of Condo describing them as “hallucinations looking back at the hallucinator”, but I failed to feel the sincerity of these works, especially for their size scale, but that’s me, I always expect too much from art. Within Condo’s dislocated cartoon environment, I much prefer Arturo Herrera’s little disturbing collages of mutilated Disney characters, where the child (you) no longer needs hallucinogenic compounds to express his or hers disturbed hidden self.

We move on to Jack Tilton, where Chris Finley shows “Warp Zone: Section 2”, more cartoons! This time inspired by video games, these paintings are described in the press release as “a three dimensional, hyper-stimulated, albeit low-tech, video gaming experience”. I found fascinating that whilst contemporary Japanese video games take us into the magical world of traditional imaginary paintings at its very best, Finlay’s paintings portray this world from the outside, as a fairly obvious choice to reflect our time.

Lehmann Maupin is showing beautifully disturbing works by Adriana Varejao. In her paintings and installations she covers her environments with traditional tiling work, white and light blue, only to uncover that underneath lie eviscerated human remains, so well made you can nearly smell them. Next time I see this kind of tiles in a house I’ll be pondering of what sickening story lies behind it.

We then enter Peter Blum, where Michael Craig-Martin shows “Common History”. First reaction: didactic. At the blink of an eye we pick the three references out of the four repeated throughout the show: Magritte’s pipe, Duchamp’s urinary, Johns’ beer cans. What about the glass of water? We ask the polite desk person and he informs us that the fourth reference is of Craig-Martin’s himself. I found that slightly arrogant, but then looking at the happy face of a little child in the colorful gallery made me remember about the subtle humour of the British, and the master mind behind YBA deserved a smile.

The most fascinating corner of Artists Space is always Project Room II. After last month’s fabulous psychoanalyst rock by Karsten-James Krejcarek, this time the room is filled by seven young people debating and laughing about quotes from books. I read it’s the Society for Collective Investigation (to me, a philosophical contradiction in terms), and it’s funny to see these people having an intellectual conversation as part of an art event. I have the feeling the organizer believes there is still a Beuysian need to force the issue and make people communicate in a deep knowledgeable level, which is sad but probably true. If I were asked to participate to such an event I couldn’t help but play the devil’s advocate and be very silly. Then again, any event or artwork that stimulates any sort of brain activity is certainly a bonus in this market driven, gift wrapped Art oasis called SoHo.



© Stefano Pasquini 2000