UNDER CONSTRUCTION Curated by Omar Lopez-Chahoud at Hotel Particulier
by Patrick Neal on March 8, 2012

Part of the fun of viewing the exhibit ‘Under Construction’ is experiencing the industrial ruin of a space which serves as the setting for six site-specific artworks. The artists were chosen by independent curator Omar Lopez-Chahoud and Frederique Thiollet of Hotel Particulier, and the exhibit is timed to coincide with the week long run of the Armory show; all six artists are represented by galleries exhibiting at the art fair. One fondly recalls ‘Brookworld’ of 16 years ago; a group show installed in dilapidated real estate on Thompson Street not far from the SoHo Grand Hotel. Three of the artists here cunningly blend in with the wreckage while the other three compliment the sleek, architectural underpinnings of the space. Amidst the girders, plaster, tangles of electric cords and tape a piece of art will emerge; use light as your guide and follow the brilliant flashes of neon, LCD monitor or the sharp glint off stainless steel.

Justin Cooper snakes a garden hose through the first and second floors of the space creating a 3-dimensional contour drawing that whips and turns in space; the dramatic curves and scribbles of the rubber cord as it lashes from forground to background feels otherworldly, its movement unbroken by planar walls, the work is a feat
of flaccid and rigid control. Ivan Navarro’s startling neon wall sculpture with a mirrored backing appears to penetrate through the plane it rests on; a square tunnel one could crawl through if only it were real. The word “degenerate” hovers in the center with the same enigmatic quality as Chryssa’s Ampersand III. The sculpture’s juxtaposition on the wall to a nearby row of pipes running vertically from floor to ceiling bathes the area in
ravishing blue and orange light.

Pieces by Courtney Smith and Luis Gispert employ the motifs of abstract sculpture with clever industrial accents. Gispert’s seemingly straightforward floor sculpture looks like a Brancusi lyrically pieced together by whatever fell loose from the surroundings; a railing or a molding while Smith’s yellow multi-levered columns imagines Minimalism’s severity warmed up and recontextualized as interior design. The sensitivity to materials and discombobulated sculptural elements in both artist’s works alters the terrain confusing real and illusory space.

Two back rooms are particularly derelict, ideal for the installations that reside there. Laleh Khorramian’s apocalyptic little tableau of what looks like a ruined cityscape made of detritus and plaster chips imprinted with honey-combed patterns; the sound of plaster crunching underfoot as one moves combined with garish lighting overhead adds a visceral punch. In a final recessed room one peers around the doorway or looks through a knocked-out hole in the wall for a voyeuristic view of Maria Petschning’s video. Here we watch a monitor with a woman cropped at the torso fidgeting with a sort of birdcage bondage brassiere, she makes indecipherable yammerings continually adjusting the garment but apparently content in her fittings.

-Patrick Neal

Curated by Omar Lopez-Chahoud
Hotel Particulier
4-6 Grand Street (between Varick and 6th Avenue)
March 7–March 11, 2012, 12:00–6:00 PM
Closing Reception: March 10, 7:00–10:00 PM by RSVP

Under Construction