January 21, 2011

NY Times Art in Review: Piotr Uklanski

 Piotr Uklanski, Untitled (Atomic Ovum), 2010, fiber-active dye on oxidized cotton textile stretched over cotton canvas, 88 7/8 x 93 3/4"

 Piotr Uklanski,"Jupiter Glow," 2010, fiber-active dye on oxidized cotton textile stretched over cotton canvas, 61 3/8 x 75"

 Installation view. Images courtesy of Gagosian. Photography by Robert McKeever.

Piotr Uklanski (b. 1968, Warsaw) is a skeptical painter aligned with the popular school of anti-painting. For his current show (described in the press materials as a "mise-en-scène") at Gagosian, he has developed a process using bedsheets from Ikea and Bloomingdales, bleach, and tie-dye techniques that enables him to make large, painting-like objects without actually painting. Uklanski suggests that the installation at Gagosian reveals an irreverence towards mainstream modernism that has emerged from his position as an immigrant in the city that gave rise to Abstract Expressionism. “Neither English nor abstraction is my mother tongue." he writes. "These paintings ‘speak’ an aesthetic ESL.”

Roberta Smith argues that Piotr Uklanski doesn’t make art as much as he makes exhibitions that give temporary form to Conceptual attitudes. "Lately he has been adding body to his ideas by appropriating the processes and materials of craft, which also lend a straight face — even a veneer of sincerity — to his ironic stance....The ensemble dazzles but quickly disintegrates. The collaborating pieces aren’t paintings; they are “paintings,” paintinglike props or décor, newly made period pieces that are already, as you read this, beginning to fail the test of time.... It is all great, colorful fun while it lasts, but it doesn’t last that long. It is hard to imagine any of the paintings looking credible without the others, despite the probable gaggle of collectors willing to pay a pretty penny to be in on the joke."

"Piotr Uklanski: Discharge!," Gagosian, New York, NY. Through Feb. 19, 2011.