Saturday, March 15, 2014

American Beauty @ Susan Inglett

Nice to see Michael Vahrenwald’s still lifes of tiny weeds heroically lit at night getting up on the wall in Chelsea. They’re simple, but beautiful pictures of the little tufts of nature always make me sad for people who live in Bushwick, where there is a real lack of real nature, even by New York standards. What did Szarkowski say? “Like Job, we need to learn to love our ash pit.” Well, if a 30x40in image of a swath of gray cement, with weeds painted gray by a lax city employee, isn’t loving our ash pit, I don’t know what is. The show also features some more rad Matthew Day Jackson work. After getting shellacked off his show at Hauser & Wirth, it’s nice to see him back with some humble little pieces. Where he selected Time Life covers that and in collaboration with his mother, Karen Jackson, stitched little shapes into the cover photograph. I also can’t help but like the inflated pink bags on the ceiling by Maren Hassinger. Not sure what to make of Dawit L. Petros’s pictures of a dude holding up a cardboard box in front of expansive landscapes. I think the Times review mentioned it was a commentary on minimalism, but what that commentary might be escapes me. The press release mentions African alphabets and commerce, but that seems like a lot of content to hang on pretty thin images.

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