Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Today I went to some galleries in Chelsea

I guess I should start off with the Dan Colen show at the Gagosian gallery which is pretentiously called Poetry (I dare anyone to find any poetry in this show) and which might be the worst exhibition I have ever had the misfortune to see. Ok I’m exaggerating a bit, it’s only the worst show I’ve seen this year. Better. Beginning with last weeks big hype puff piece in the New York Times by Carol Vogel (have you no shame Ms. Vogel?) I kind of a had a feeling that I would not like this guys work. And I was not wrong. His paintings using chewing gum are without any insight, depth or feeling, they are D.O.A. and add nothing to the rich and varied history of abstract painting. In fact they set painting back 30 or more years. What is wrong with the New York Art world when such a meager talent like Colen gets to have a big show at one of the top galleries in the city. I’ve been pondering this since I got back home and still can’t come up with anything reasonable that would explain how this guy got where he is on such a small amount of talent. But let me try to describe what I saw. When you first enter this huge space you come face to face with a brick wall literally which offered nothing to this viewer as a good piece of sculpture. Its a brick wall, maybe Colen felt like he was banging his head against a brick wall to come up with a good show, or he was saying that he’s up against it. In any case this thing does not work as anything other than a prop, It certainly isn’t a good piece of large scale minimal sculpture. Sure you can walk around it and view the way it is supported, and that’s it. For fun you might want to read his silly remarks about this piece in the times here is a snippet Vogel says “And because it was made in two sections there is a ridge, running horizontally, another matter of happenstance. “ Colen; “It makes it a work of art, not just a brick wall” he said of the ridge.“ At first I thought I would spray paint it, but when I got it here I liked the way it looked.” Cool. but its still just a brick wall, a very expensive brick wall, but still a boring brick wall. There’s more large minimal and empty looking sculptures that have been fabricated and are hanging about the large space, just taking up room. They offer nothing new or original other than that they are big and clunky and a few are placed in front of his lousy large paintings that incorporate abstract imagery using chewing gum. From the Times: First he and his studio assistants just started chewing “everybody would have to do it all day long it was so crazy.” Yeah I can just see him and his drug addled cool hip friends sitting around smoking the weed and chewing the gum. This is a portrait of the artist as big dumb macho man, posing without a shirt, strutting his stuff and in fact this show off once posed for a flyer for a show in Berlin of him neck down with a Jewish prayer shawl hanging from his erect penis. How original and shocking, not really I find it dumb and depressing, but if you have nothing else to offer show an erect dick, it sure worked for him. There is also a large crappy painting of bottles on a table that he or his helpers copied from a still of the Disney cartoon “The Three Musketeers” that he says took two years to make. Two years shit it looks like it took 2 hours, and I’ve seen better paintings in MFA shows. As if this work wasn’t bad enough by itself he’s put in front of it a row of 13 new Harley Davidson motorcycles, that he kicked over. These bikes add nothing, they have no meaning they are simply there, just big expensive toys. To quote Colen “The guy who knocks them over is the artist because he’s the creator of the situation.” I don’t see how someone with the meager talent that Colen has is going to sustain a long lasting impressive career over the years, maybe he doesn’t either and simply wants to take the money and run. I’ll be happy to call him a cab. I did see two shows that I did like very much Judy Pfaff’s marvelous show at Ameringer, McEnery Yohe and the beautiful show of Craig Kaufman’s Late Work at Danese. I think I’ll hold off for a while to write about these two fine artists until I get the awful Colen show out of my mind.


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