Disregarding Function

Jessica Stockholder answers “what if” questions with elements that won’t behave

Jessica Stockholder presents a series of obnoxious objects at Gorney Bravin & Lee.

Too small to be one of her signature room(s)-sized temporary installations, but too big and all over the place to be polite, this fun, permanent, consumer-friendly work is some of the best painting happening anywhere. These discreet objects explode the idea of comfortable small scale work that the traditional term “table top sculpture” implies; they often contain––or is it consume?––their own table tops, snake out onto the floor, or attach themselves to the wall of the gallery like petulant children. They just don’t behave.

Highly animated and comic, these sculptures answer “what if” questions such as “What if I cut a hole in the dining room table, put last year’s Christmas tree in the hole, and then wrap it up in tin?” At turns kooky and savvy, Stockholder is unwilling to be bound up by the proper function of her found objects; the formal qualities of her materials––shape, color, and texture takes precedence.

The sublime green extension cord of 379 (all the pieces are numbered) gives the piece its juice visually as well as electrically. The stacked turquoise Tupperware in 380 infects its supporting stool and the faux fur sleeve above it with vibrant color. Everyday household materials, such as plastic bins, paint buckets, carpet remnants, fabric scraps, cast-off furniture, and lamps are held together in a riot of fasteners, bolts, epoxies, hinges, and nails. Paint flows over, under, around, and through everything.

Thirty of Stockholder’s art friends have loaned work for her to stage a turn in the role of “the curator,” commenting on the reprehensible craze of “gallerists” using exhibition materials––art, that is––that others––painters and sculptors––provide and how they are “curated” as evidence of the creativity and originality of whom else? Why “the curator” of course!

Unfortunately, Stockholder isn’t cold enough to subvert the artwork provided to her and generate something new here. The salon style hanging keeps the work too removed and precious. This half-hearted corner of the gallery never moves beyond looking like the set for an Ikea catalog shoot. The gorgeous but untransformed “marshmallow” chair just kills it.

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