Justin Lowe and Jonah Freeman have recreated a meth lab in Marfa (Hello Meth Lab in the Sun, 2008) imagined a CIA-run LSD testing facility in a Rudolph Schindler-designed modernist house in Los Angeles (Bright White Underground, 2010) and constructed a dystopian fleabag hotel complete with a derelict OTB booth inside the swanky environs of Marlborough Read More
It doesn’t seem possible to make war paintings boring. But that is what the young Iraqi-born, New York-based artist Ahmed Alsoudani has managed with the three pieces included in this overly ambitious group show: in his hands, not only war, but history and physical and psychic mutilation have been rendered, well, dull. His work is featured alongside that of three esteemed painters who are similarly interested in psychologically traumatic strains of figuration: the tortured, uneven Brit Francis Bacon, the transcendent, curveball-pitching American Philip Guston and the lesser-known British-Portuguese artist Paula Rego. Even when these painters are not at their best—and Marlborough is displaying average pieces by them—they handily outmatch him.
Just when you think you know what it’s doing, art has the nasty and endearing habit of veering in a completely different direction, turning back on itself and throwing you, Alice-style, down a chute into wonderlands. Consider: a Depression-era bank has time-traveled to ZieherSmith; a cavernous cruise ship casino has crashed into Gladstone; a rabbit’s warren of dingy, sinister rooms has displaced Marlborough Chelsea; and a suburban home has taken up residence in the Pierogi Boiler.
What happened? Just a few months ago, the Whitney Biennial argued that the past decade’s excesses had passed. It celebrated modestly scaled art, exemplified by Andrew Masullo’s compact abstract paintings, K8 Hardy’s fashion photos and Vincent Fecteau’s cement and clay confections. That, as it turned out, was wishful thinking. The new season has delivered a bumper-crop of full-on, intensely immersive, gallery-filling installations.
Marlborough Chelsea announced today that it has hired Vera Neykov as its associate director under Director Pascal Spengemann, who came to the gallery in January.
It’s hardly been a year since Marlborough Gallery’s top director, Pierre Levai, appointed his then-23-year-old son, Max, to revive the institution’s blue-chip, but stodgy, reputation. As the new director of Marlborough Chelsea, the younger Mr. Levai has already rebranded the gallery into a youthful enterprise totally distinct from its Midtown forebear, introducing names like Robert Lazzarini, Rashaad Newsome and duo Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe to a roster once devoted to Fernando Botero, Dale Chihuly and other established market-makers.
“I’m not really like a gun person,” artist Joe Deutch told Gallerist at Marlborough Chelsea last night. He was standing in front of an open metal briefcase that displayed a gun. “But there was no way for us to legally get it here and show it.”
The gun in the briefcase was fake, part of Mr. Deutch’s new exhibition, which opened last night. (He pronounces his name “deech.”) It presents video documentation, photographs, sculpture and ephemera from the performance work that Mr. Deutch has engaged in over the last eight years, the lynchpin of which was a notorious performance that he did in 2004 while a graduate student at UCLA. For that work he went before his classmates dressed in a suit and tie, removed a gun from a paper bag and held it in one hand, while with the other he held up a bullet and showed it to the class (and the camera: he was recording it). Then he loaded the bullet into the chamber with the flick of his hand and placed the gun up to his head. Then he pulled the trigger, which clicked, and lowered the gun, unhurt. He then walked into an adjacent hall, out of sight and set off a fire-cracker, which made the sound of a shot.
The Baer Faxt newsletter reported this morning that Marlborough Chelsea has hired former Marc Strauss director James Cope as its new director of sales.
Marlborough Chelsea, the ever-expanding gallery that just nabbed a new director in Pascal Spengemann, formerly of Taxter and Spengemann, will mount shows with new artists Robert Lazzarini, Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe in 2012. The additions were announced rather subtly, in an Artforum ad, which also noted the representation of Rashaad Newsome, who had his first solo show with the gallery this past October.
Yesterday news broke that Pascal Spengemann, whose Taxter & Spengemann gallery closed this fall, will be the new director at Marlborough Chelsea. Reached for comment today, Mr. Spengemann said he’s eager to start, and busy meeting artists.
The hiring is new enough that Mr. Spengemann said his plans for the gallery are still in the air, but had kind words for the space’s 24-year-old owner Max Levai.