I am not sure exactly what all the art in this very sprawling show had to do with Richter’s paintings about young German liberals shooting at people or Baader-Meinhof themselves, but I very much enjoyed the experience of being at the opening. It was hot and featured a cellist playing an incessant droning sound that at first seemed smart if not a tad gimmicky. But being that the cellist sat next to a video of people chopping up an elephant and behind a large wood skeleton of a wall built with a rise at the base to accommodate a stack of dry wall, after a while the drone and the heat had an effect, and it was hard not to feel like you were being broken down in an Guantanamo integration cell. Which seems to be in keeping with the subject of the Richter paintings. But the most in keeping, literally, with the theme was new media artist extordinare and possible destroyer of abstract painting Siebren Versteeg with his large, digital, green-grayish abstract painting of large bendy brush strokes made using an algorithm to break down and reconstruct all of Richter’s painting from the series and then digitally output them again as an abstract painting. I also loved the green shift in the colors, which felt like something that happens in black and white digital printing when one of your ink cartridges is running low. On the opposite end of the spectrum the show also included Daniel Rich’s exacting if not mildly abstract paintings of light pastel colored condos, where the unrelenting repetition of architectural forms become oppressive but, in the context of the show, also made me hope some part of the tragic narrative took place in these awful but sunny condos.
But the highlight was Michele Abeles who had a small photograph of what looked like an ad with some text on it showing a woman from the 60’s in a bath. I didn’t particularly care for or think much about this photograph until it was stolen off the wall during the opening. By all accounts, a man came in, grabbed the photograph and ran out of the crowded opening and through a large group of people standing out front to get some air. It occurred to me that I’d never known of that to happen at an opening before, and it’s surprising it doesn’t happen more often, and it was fascinating that no one tried to stop him, and would I have done anything if I had seen it happen? Well, upon returning a week or two later, I was informed by the woman behind the desk that the stealing of the piece was a performance arranged by Michele Abeles but without informing the gallery beforehand, which seems a little dickish, but also a lot awesome. I spent a good week telling people how the piece got stolen and if I hadn’t gone back a second time to take someone else, I probably would have been repeating that story for some time to come. It produced a wonderful narrative fiction that not only made me think and entertained me, but inherently involved me in creating it. Great and not at all what I expected from Michele Abeles. My hat’s off.