The weather couldn't have been better this past Saturday for spending an afternoon strolling through Chelsea and seeing some of the most recent gallery exhibits. I was delighted to come out of the subway to a street fair on 8th Avenue. Munching on a veggie/feta/hummus wrap, I strolled up the street, browsing the vendors who were selling jewelry, purses and bags, knick-knacks, and NYC souvenir t-shirts. After making a few purchases, I turned onto West 24th Street, whose block between 10th and 11th Avenues is packed with galleries. Exhibits in the Andrea Rosen (525 W. 24th St.) and Luhring Augustine (531 W. 24th St.) galleries were most enchanting to me.
photograph source: Andrea Rosen Gallery
Andrea Rosen's main gallery currently has work by the late Tetsumi Kudo who practiced in Japan during the 1950s and France during the 60s and 70s. A wonderful introduction to the exhibit, called Cubes & Gardens, is given in this quote from Kudo in the gallery's press release.
Accurate to its name, the exhibit consists of variously-sized cubes and sculptural garden scenes. The wooden cubes, painted as die, contain mass-produced household objects such as egg cartons and tea infusers. In the garden scenes, plastic flowers melt into soil, while pieces of circuit boards and paper mâché body parts rise up from the earth. Created during the 60s and early 70s while Kudo lived in Paris, these pieces are meant to represent the European lifestyle of surrounding oneself with mass-produced items, entertainment, and technology. The centerpiece of the exhibit is a shed-sized wooden cube with a hobbit-sized circular door. Inside the cube an ultraviolet light illuminates large neon paper flowers and garden sculptures hanging in birdcages. On the floor, clumped paper mâché forms human footprints. Read more about the exhibit at the Andrea Rosen Gallery website.
"No matter how, it is important to think about the relationship of polluted nature to the proliferation of electronics... the decomposition of humanity (humanism) and the old and traditional hierarchy of values."
-Tetsumi Kudo, 1971
photograph source: Luhring Augustine
Luhring Augustine's current exhibit Heroes of Birth features new work by Swiss artist, Pipilotti Rist. All or Nothing, located in the entry gallery, is a tiny metal triptych holding LCD screens. Green-tinted arms and hands on the two outer screens sway in time with not-immediately-obvious, red- and green-tinted male genitalia on the center screen. Combined with the lullaby-like music coming from the next gallery space (the type that would come from a baby's mobile slowing to a stop), the whole swaying display of color becomes quite mesmerizing.
Equally mesmerizing is the exhibit, Layers Mama Layers, in the main gallery. The dark space is filled with rows of sheer curtains with two sets of images projected onto them. Two stationary projectors play images of sheep: herds of sheep, a single sheep, a sheep's staring eye, a sheep's wet nose. Another two rotating projectors display telescoping rings of neon-green light that swirl across the curtains and the sheep. By walking in between the rows of curtains, you become part of the exhibit, with the sheep and swirling rings of light on all sides.
The rear gallery's walls are covered in two different patterns of vibrant wall paper, Giving Hand Hand Giving and Fountain of Penis. Rist based the designs on the images from the screens of All or Nothing. Hanging from the ceiling is the Massachusetts Chandelier, made of brilliantly-lit previously-worn (but clean) underwear. Read more about the exhibit in the Heroes of Birth press release.