Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Stranger at Yvon Lambert

In what's become a Chelsea tradition, Yvon Lambert has a group show up this month that features old stalwarts (Anselm Kiefer, George Segal) and new recruits (Shinique Smith, Patricia Piccinini). The theme of the show is The Stranger, Albert Camus' 1946 novel of disconnection, apathy and murder. Perhaps this explains the show's coldness and lack of a cohesive thesis, or that may simply be a reflection of Chelsea and the current trends in the international art market.

Patricia Piccinini, The Long Awaited, 2008

Individual pieces within the show do resonate despite the gallery's staid atmosphere. The craftsmanship of Patricia Piccinini's sculpture The Long Awaited is outstanding, and the emotional resonance of her work is quite powerful. A child and a withered old creature, part monster and part grandmother, dream together in a loving embrace.

Shinique Smith, and, she has a bowl of lilacs in her room, 2008

Lambert has recently picked up Shinique Smith, a Brooklyn-based artist whose star is rising fast. In 2008 alone, she has been in shows at the New Museum, Socrates Sculpture Park, National Portrait Gallery, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, The Rubell Collection, Deutsche Guggenheim, Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, and had a solo show at Saltworks in Atlanta, GA. Smith uses found and recycled clothing in sculptures which comment on nostalgia, international commerce, romance and female self-image. Her drawings incorporate calligraphic and graffitti writing, sumi ink painting and collage, and are often integrated into her sculptural installations.

George Segal, Seated Woman Reading, 1999

The novel of the title appears in George Segal's sculpture Seated Woman Reading, in which the woman in question sits at a table and ponders Camus' text. Her skin is International Klein Blue instead of Segal's signature Hydrocal white, possibly as an homage to the creative contributions of the French in the 20th century. Her surface is slightly worn, as though she has sat with her thoughts there a long time.

Anselm Kiefer, Asche fur Paul Celan, 2006

Kiefer's contribution is a beached rowboat made of lead, weighted down with leaden books. Surrounding it are concrete fragments shot through with twisted rebar. The effect is that of a quest for knowledge thwarted by the brutality of urban life, which the seeker has abandoned in search of some more hopeful goal.

Koo Jeong-A, Soo-I, 2004

Koo Jeong-A's quirky sculpture Soo-I perches high above the Kiefer, a cute and childlike figure utterly incongruous with the physical and psychological heaviness below. He seems to make a joke of despair and hopelessness, and so becomes the stand-in for a summer visitor. The moroseness of the show evaporates in the hot sun outside, the hustle of the city and the ephemerality of Chelsea.

For more images from this show, click here.

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