Monday, March 9, 2015

Robin Peck "Crania" @ CANADA

Saturday I headed down to the Lower East Side. It's so easy to get to from Soho, basically 5 blocks away. I knew that CANADA was one of the galleries I have wanted to check out. I've been hearing about this gallery for a long time but never quite made the visit in person until now. This gallery is huge, you'd almost think it was a Chelsea gallery with it's vast interior space, especially the back room where I was greeted by Robin Peck's exhibition CRANIA. I originally found it odd that a gallery would leave so much of their space empty of art, but once I got to the back room, I understood. This is an exhibition that needed that anti-room to allow you to enter and exit with your mind fully in tact.

From the gallery website:

"Since the late 1960s Peck has been acknowledged as a contributor to the traditions of minimalism, post-minimalism and conceptualism. His work has served as a guardian of that legacy if only reluctantly, ambivalently so. Peck’s new Crania series, at first glance may appear to signal a departure. Outward appearance, in this instance, can be deceiving. The Crania series expounds upon this history and extends to embrace the artist’s encyclopedic knowledge of and interest in the history of sculpture.

We encounter twelve modest-size, apparently plaster sculptural pedestal objects. Their lumpen forms and paucity of adornment could hardly be thought of as immediately visually dynamic: no grand gestures, no appendages. Some are ovoid and feminine, others more attenuated, vertical and phallic. Numbers of viewers will be able to make neither head nor tail of this work. What are we to make of these offerings?"

And now for my take on that...

Primordial shapes extrude from the nothingness of their podiums. 333 Broome Street is where the primordial unease is emitting from. 12 modest sized sculptures by Peck, all in the same yellow/brown coloring. Each in a different stage of birth from the chaos from which they are oozing. The atmosphere that this exhibition gives is not something you will experience anywhere else. A super quiet room with 12 tall boxes with what some would deem "heads", the only way this room could have been creepier would be with more dramatic lighting and maybe a floor construction, but then that in itself would be an installation and not 12 sculptures on their pedestals.

The colors of this sculpture reminds me of the coloring of Twombly, Lawrence Carroll and Ford Beckman, this very pale almost dirty white color that for some reason has so much power. Many people never think that color has power on it's own, but it does. Usually it comes from a contrasting of colors, but the monochrome painters have proven time and time again that a single color can have vast amounts of power.

Works like this seemed to be built of  many many layers which in turn create the look of something extremely old, in some places it looks like you could see where someone might have hit it with a hatchet to break it open, only to chip it slightly enough to see how many layers one had to go through to get inside. You can see that more in the image below and two images above. Click on the images to see much larger details.

Maybe the sense of unease was the reason why so many snickered at it while I visited and looked in silence. Even as I first walked up to the room, I could feel something was different in this space than the others. The works themselves fight with you but are so quiet that it's almost as if something they are emitting is what you are fighting against.

If you'd like to learn more about this exhibition before you see it in person, check out the CANADA website.

All in, a very good and interesting exhibition, one that will stay with my subconscious for quite some time.

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Columbus, Ohio, United States