March 12, 2012

Volta shock

I usually like Volta because the size is manageable, each gallery presents a solo exhibition by one artist, and, I admit, I like seeing the Empire State Building, which is right across the street. Unfortunately, this year I was disappointed by sentimental imagery, a surplus of overdetermined paint handling, and the plethora of symbolic realism. Even Patrick Brennan's paintings at Halsey McKay, for all the energetic spray painting  and slashing, seemed lackluster. Understandably, Steven Zeivitas chose to show Andrew Masullo, who is currently in the Whitney Biennial, but I would have preferred to see a less well known artist. There were a few highlights, however, including Samson Projects' Matthew Rich paintings and balzerARTprojects' Ao Tajima installations.

Matthew Rich, one of the Boston ICA's 2010 Foster Prize winners, paints on paper. "My paintings get rid of the canvas and its hired muscle, the stretcher bar," he explains. "These pieces hang irregularly, almost quilt-like, on the wall, achieving a wholeness that is at once finished and yet irrevocably piecemeal." (My images are awful, so go check his work out at the Samson website.) 

Matthew Rich

Matthew Rich

 Patrick Brennan, Get Free (White), 2011, mixed media on canvas, 48 x 36 inches

Ao Tajima uses household items to create odd installations and assemblages. Her statement includes a few too many stock conceptual phrases ("subversively stress gender and power hierarchies," "critical analysis of global/trans-national economic and cultural developments"), but, taken on its own, the work is clever and thought provoking. Below: The Third Fold (Die dritte Falte), 2011, blanket, wood, 150 x 200 cm

Related post:
Painters at VOLTA (2011)


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