Thursday, December 6, 2012

KK Kozik “New Paintings” and Wendy Klemperer @ Storefront Bushwick

I love Storefront Gallery. I go often, the shows are pretty consistent, and I can’t even remember the last thing I disliked there, which makes this show so disappointing. KK Kozik’s paintings and Wendy Klemperer’s sculptures are a rare misstep for Storefront. I am not the hugest fan of realist painting, and have a hard time seeing it as anything but an inherently dated style of painting, despite what I am sure is a great deal of skillfully handled paint. But as is the case with Kozik, realist painters often don’t take enough responsibility for the images that serve as the basis for their work. For instance, I liked Kerry Law’s recent show in the project space at Storefront. His repetitive paintings of the Empire State Building with the recurring framing of the iconic building highlights an artistic problem, how to make something so redundant interesting. If one can get past the repetition in Law’s images, the paintings tend to draw you in. I found myself noticing the subtle shifts in his technique from painting to painting and the way in which he rendered ephemeral things like clouds and moisture. The work is both thrilling and instructive, like a course on seeing paintings for non-painters.

As enjoyable as Kerry Law’s work is the softly rendered realism of KK Kozik’s paintings, often of pre-teens in the large narrative settings, which feel like illustrations more than art. It might be just an unfortunate combination of subject matter and style, but I can’t help seeing her paintings as YA book covers. Even if you enjoy that sort of thing, I am not sure how the painting of an unpopulated view from inside a large clock fits into the rest of the work. The point of view through the clock into a blue sky reads more surreal than narrative and hits an odd note. Again I hate to be so critical, but I am just really surprised how much I disliked the show.

The day I was walking around Bushwick, I had more than one person recommend Wendy Klemperer’s animal statues, and maybe it is because they were being talked up as being on the racy side, but I am not sure I know what to think of them. They are made with a clear degree of skill, but unfortunately the small scale hurts the work. They resemble the bronzed western statues by Frederic Remington that you see on executives’ desks on TV shows. The animals are made of a waxy, resin-like substance that doesn’t always cover the black metal lining that makes up the form of the animal. This might suggest the animals are melting into lively skeleton, but the lifelike accuracy of sculptures and subjects seeming to come right out of a National Geographic makes the work look like that of a really talented Sunday painter (sculptor?). There is a dalmatian overpowering a lion but that is about as racy as it gets, and the rest are pretty standard nature scenes. (I am not sure how often tigers kill deer but it seems possible). The one thing I can say for the show is that the work of Kozik and Klemperer makes sense together. Both are surely tapping into mediums that are often outside the standard canon of contemporary art, but for me, it just felt more “not art” than outsider art. I do look forward to upcoming shows and hope not to be shunned by Deborah Brown, who really does do a great job with Storefront.

Already Down
Storefront Bushwick (16 Wilson Ave., Btw. Noll & George Sts., Bushwick, NY)


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