“One Of A Kind Iconic Works, 1967-2015” is a quirky delight, dripping with resin and perversity. It would take a certain kind of apartment — simultaneously decadent and deranged — to provide a home to some of these furniture pieces and small sculptures. “Cloud Lamp” looks like a two-legged sheep monster, offering only a glimmer of illumination; the “Do You Still Love Me?” Cabinet resembles two Easter Island heads doused in slime and repurposed as a Catholic confession booth. This Spaniard iconoclast proves that design doesn’t have to be about sleek lines and cool surfaces — it can be weird, and tacky, and still classy. Here’s a chair, he says, that looks like it’s made out of a thousand ecstatic pink plastic sperm. Enjoy!
Speaking of tacky: this Danish-born, Berlin-based artist’s first solo with Metro Pictures revels in a particularly 1980s-inflected variety of questionable taste. There are mixed-media “paintings” composed of human-hair wigs — gallerymate Jim Shaw would probably dig that — coupled with cheesy Hermes ties bearing all-over prints of things like polo players and pumpkins. The ties form a violent storm around the wigs (imagine a remake of “The Birds” in which hapless women are accosted by malevolent neckware), with these compositions embedded in white insulation foam. Sculptures purporting to be female nudes are nearby: Coconuts carved to resemble prurient anatomy, plopped on top of small mountains of loose soil. In the next gallery, a series of vastly oversized wine and martini glasses hold a variety of items: fake fish, peanut shells, a faucet streaming out silver coins. Taken together, the exhibition has a distinctive “Bright Lights, Big City” vibe: Slightly out-of-date luxury pushed to its extravagant, absurd, and slightly sad limit.
Keep this Memphis Group revival going, please! The design-focused Chelsea gallery presents new mixed-media works and drawings by a former member (who has recently been moonlighting as an American Apparel collaborator). Du Pasquier’s graphite drawings resemble complicated letterforms or obtuse, useless machines. An accompanying series of wall works pairs paintings with complementary sculptural assemblages. If that’s out of your price range you can still walk home with “Don’t Take These Drawings Seriously: 1981-1987,” a handsomely designed book released earlier this year. If you missed our Memphis-focused video interview with Maggie Clinton, Leo Koenig, and Joe Sheftel, check it out here.
Normally that whole artist-as-shaman schtick has me reaching for my revolver (see: James Lee Byars at MoMA PS1), but Ronay and Cox put a fresh (and, thankfully, funny) spin on the conceit. My scribbled notes on the former’s sculptures, composed of carved bass wood and plastics, include the phrases “rainbow conductor... vomiting space dust... electrified sea anemone.” (I wasn’t even high! But I bet these guys were). Funny enough, Ronay’s sense of pattern shows a clear Memphis Group influence, or maybe I’m just obsessed and seeing it everywhere these days. Cox’s embroidered paintings are mostly cool light blues, a very South Floridian palette, with threads and paint combining to form simple but intense shapes you might cast a spell with. The overall vibe is D.I.Y. New Age cosmic-funk. In some alternate future you’ll find me in a zero-gravity penthouse hovering over the East River, surrounded by work like this, reclining in a Gaetano Pesce sperm-chair.
A three-person show of work by Josh Reames, Ron Ewert, and Greg Ito, this exhibition earns its oddly slapstick title. Reames — a Dallas artist recently relocated to Brooklyn — continues to kill it with painted and airbrushed canvases that resemble cluttered computer screens awash with jarring medleys of clip art (a happy cigarette here, some purple-tinted lemons there). Ewert’s paintings are stark black-on-white renderings of faces or what seem to be jittery, nearly indecipherable street scenes. Ito presents a series of “model cakes” sourced online, their faux-fruit toppings pierced by cheap belly button rings and the like. An accompanying sculpture pairs similarly adorned fake plants threaded into off-white office blinds. A bright yellow stud-wall bisects the gallery space, allowing room to hang additional paintings, as well as a door propped open by a plastic baguette.
ALSO WORTH SEEING: Lutz Bacher’s jarring, overloaded video installation using shaky footage of the Empire State Building, at Greene Naftali through May 9; Hans op de Beeck’s watercolors, still life sculptures, and accompanying animated video (scored with a moving post-rock soundtrack by the artist himself), at Marianne Boesky through May 2.