Friday, July 16, 2010

Riding on the Back of a Pig into a Pool of Mud

"Defrosted: a life of Walt Disney" opens June 29 at Postmasters

A few days before the start of the New York art world's summer lull, Postmasters opened a stellar group exhibition forcing vacationers awake. A conceptually taut revisionist riff on the life of Walt Disney, the show is organized by Adam Cvijanovic and David Humphrey, and features 14 additional artists. Summer in the city beckons most galleries to throw group shows, but this one, planned for 2 years, has thrown down the gauntlet.

Right: David Humphrey and featured artist Inka Essenhigh.

The entire main gallery is covered with a wall painting by Cvijanovic, with figurative parts painted by Humphrey, and additional canvases by Humphrey playfully hung throughout. By the entrance of the gallery, a timeline of Disney's life creates a comical leitmotif that throws the otherwise fantastical show into sharp relief, the kind of truth that our current reality-TV modernity finds prickly and illusive at best. Related works by artists both known and Ebay-anonymous hang on a scaffold recreating Magic Mountain, itself based on the Matterhorn.

Left: artist Nika Sarabi.

Right: detail of Nika Sarabi's work.

The crowded opening emphasized the room-filling expanse lushly imagined by Cvijanovic. An artist who makes painting seem as easy as brushing one's teeth, Cvijanovic continues to push his style into a modern reinvention of history painting. Humphrey's cartoony tendencies are also a perfect fit for this thematic exhibition. In cohesive yet distinctive styles, both artists re-imagine a workshop ideal, even asking Nika Sarabi, an artist familiar with graffiti, to add detail to an abandonned spaceship from Disneyworld's Tomorrowland.

Left: "Addio", Eva and Franco Mattes, aka, hung on pedestal.

In the back room, several works were supposed to represent Walt Disney's crypt, and indeed it was a quiet somber room, with a video and giant Mickey sculpture. A truly ambitious undertaking, the entire exhibition concerned itself not just with the reinvention of biography and the collaborative process, but also the physical challenge of having imagery taking over the room. The exhibit placed the viewer in a warped Einsteinian time/space dimension, which particularly was pronounced during the packed opening. And yet as viewers looked up at the walls, they were brought back into the objecthood and subjectivity of each individual artist placing their work on the pedestal cum Matterhorn. A heady and yet perfectly summer-themed exhibit indeed--catch it before it closes on August 6!

Left: Paula Wilson, "After All", mixed media on wood, on pedestal.

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