Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Implosion 20 @ Anton Kern Gallery

I haven’t been by Chelsea in a little bit, and it came as a little of a shock how many empty ground floor spaces were available, even spaces that were once blue chip galleries. I guess it makes sense. Since the Highline opened, the real estate bubble popped and Sandy hit, one by one small galleries and then midsized galleries have vanished from Chelsea only to be replaced by second hand dealers and mega galleries showing museum level shows of Old Masters.

With the dwindling of quality galleries in Chelsea, I’ve become more and more aware of how good Anton Kern’s programing has been. It’s not just showing photographers like Enrique Metinides or Anne Collier, but overall they have exhibited work that seemed exciting and for better or worse looked cool, or maybe I just loved that last Nicole Eisenman show.

Walking into Implosion 20, I was hit by how much good work was in the show. It immediately reminded me of the exhibition Bob Nickas curated a little while back. As with the Nickas show, this is packed to the gills with stylishly diverse work that looks like what you’d dream a high-end MFA open studio show would be. The exhibition is centered around 60’s psychedelia, which seems oddly timely with its political flourish combined with a desperate escapism, best exemplified by the presence of plush bean bag chairs positioned to watch police beating on video or a folkish painting of a guitarist across from an image of Hendrix with a color ringed hole descending into the wall.

The pinnacle of the show is the back room, where a blue line around the room at waist level seems to be painted over the work of a solo painting that is minimalist via junk art, a collision of styles that is weirdly appropriate in our current setting of post everything art. Reading the PR, apparently, I made it on the last day of the last show Anton Kern is having before their move uptown to the 50’s where galleries go to be seen by retirees.


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