Going off the Grid: Wiley at Beauchene, ‘Towards a Warm Math’ at On Stellar Rays, Simon at Callicoon

  • Eugene von Bruenchenhein contributes to Mr. Wiley’s show two beautiful ballpoint drawings of vaguely ornithological geometric patterns; John Houck, two carefully, deliberately creased, computer-facilitated grids; and Ionel Talpazan, two large, exuberantly colorful diagrams of the UFOs that we can expect any day now, complete with explanatory texts that might or might not make sense if you read Romanian. Thomas Bayrle’s 1970 Stalin (rote Version) depicts the iconic dictator using repeated red iterations of his iconic mustache. Brody Condon’s Vat Flesh on a Pedestal of Imitation Jade is like a four-foot-high geodesic spermatozoon, in which the pattern of expression adapts itself to the pattern of growth. Oliver Laric’s Versions, three small, motley-colored, polyurethane sculptures, wade into iconoclasm, Walter Benjamin style: reproducing an altarpiece figure in St. Martin’s Cathedral in Utrecht that was defaced during the Reformation, they were poured by the artist in a mold made from a model built to order in China from digital photos the artist collected on the Internet.

    The last word here goes to Lucas Blalock, whose 2011 silver print Numbers, which shows heavy black numbers, including the much-praised 1, the controversial 3 and the mysteriously powerful 23, against a windy grayish background, serves simultaneously as the show’s joke, question, précis and punchline.

    After you come out of On Stellar Rays, walk over to Forsyth and hang a left, because meaning can also be donated, catalogued, exploited, oppressed and discarded—or salvaged, memorialized, repurposed and put up for sale. For 34 years, until she was laid off after helping to lead a strike, Mary Corliss managed the five million images of the Museum of Modern Art’s Film Still Archive. Jason Simon’s Festschrift for an Archive combines, between sober gray covers, an interview with Ms. Corliss, two judgments by the National Labor Relations Board and a publicity still (not from the archive) from a Hollywood film about labor. Most of the book’s edition of 200—along with images of Charlie Chaplin, Marcello Mastroianni, Thommy Berggren playing Joe Hill and another project called Two Essays on Banks—are on display at Callicoon Fine Arts.

    editorial@observer.com

  • Courtesy the artist and Nicelle Beauchene Gallery

  • Courtesy the artist and Callicoon Fine Arts

  • Courtesy the artist and Adam Reich/On Stellar Rays

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