To close out the gallery’s three-year run at 124 Forsyth Street, Nicholas Buffon has turned Callicoon Fine Arts inside out. A single room that already feels something like an alleyway, with close-set white walls and a rough concrete floor, it’s now hung with Mr. Buffon’s exacting but fanciful models of the yellowish-white wooden house in the town of Callicoon, in upstate New York, where the gallery was founded; the steel gates that protect the gallery’s much larger new space on Delancey Street; a stop sign, a paper shopping bag, a streetlight, a cast-iron gate, a blue plastic bag of recycling, a red bicycle with a stolen front wheel, three Dr. Seuss trees, and the five-story, red brick Forsyth Street building itself, all made from paper and foam core.
Mr. Buffon uncovers the organic, by-eye quality of memory, or steps gracefully into an imaginative world where a thought is as good as a deed, by inhabiting the material limits of a home-from-school craft project. The green cornice of the four-and-a-half-foot-high Forsyth Street building is exacting, its bricks unrelenting, and the black paper shingles on its second-floor overhang don’t miss a beat; but there’s no glass in any of the doors or windows, the interiors are mostly empty, and the blue flowers in upstate-Callicoon’s windowbox have the exuberantly exaggerated simplicity of a cocktail napkin doodle. An Italian flag flutters at the bottom of a little blackboard in front of the first-floor pizzeria, under the legend MENU PIZZA SALAD PASTA HERO. Stop Sign is a very approximate octagon. And the leaves of the potted plants curl like the ends of a birthday-present bow: The whole place feels like an Adult Swim version of a Borges story about the precariousness of the art world. Or maybe the better literary comparison would be to Georges Perec: The whimsy and delight achieved by 124 Forsyth Street’s removed view of the world are so transporting that they almost succeed in concealing the trauma and loss that underlie them.
(Through June 29, 2014)