Friday, February 17, 2012

Specifically Yours: Alex Da Corte, Adam Henry, and Rory Mulligan @ Joe Sheftel

A rather strong debut for the Joe Sheftel gallery. Alex Da Corte, Adam Henry and Rory Mulligan have considerable talent that coalesces nicely around the show’s concept that “their work addresses the role of the sculptural object on perception.” Adam Henry’s wonderful small black painting of hard-edged lines of negative space delineated with dark gray shading that appear almost to flicker like a revamped television test bars, along with some other less memorable but still pleasing, hazily minimalist abstract paintings.

Alex Da Corte seems to be a dominant, almost overwhelming force in the show, where his work ranges from a wonderful, full-color ice ream cone sculpture about 4 feet high that has been doused in a splash of gray/silver paint, along with a stack of 20x24ish frames stacked about 3 feet high with the top frame containing a wrinkled piece of silver material or a colorful liter of what appears to be orange Fanta. Each piece a very sexy remnant of a decaying society, like the leftovers of a hipster apocalypse. But Da Corte has another six pieces in the show, that is less convincing; a block with three rubber gloves or a broken folding chair with a plastic breakfast on it, each more colorful and humorous then anything in the rest of the show.

The curating of Rory Mulligan’s empty black and white pictures is tight. They are paired with Henry’s black abstract painting and Da Corte’s ice cream cone splashed with silver/gray paint and his stack of frames with creased tin foil. As nicely as Mulligan’s pictures of a lit matchbook, a file against a frosted glass and a bent bush work in the context, the show reduces his work to a formal exploration, and the somber, listless tone seems needlessly limiting.

Mulligan’s work takes on a far greater meaning when it includes pictures of himself, or random naked nudes or when it is located in Los Angles or suburban New York. His inclusion in Specifically Yours makes sense, and often group shows serve to explore an idea, more than to just showcase a particular artist. But Specifically Yours seems to highlight curators’ general inability to understand how to use photography as something more than just the representation of a subject matter, or to go further than a formal read of the materials like bushes, glass, cement, etc that might make up an image. But at least Specifically Yours resulted in a talented photographer like Mulligan getting into a good show.


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