Jessica Stockholder’s solo show on the first floor of Kavi Gupta’s Washington Boulevard location features a new body of work which includes her “Assists,” a set of sculpted pieces that might hold up other art. In that show, Tony Tasset’s “Cup,” a cast bronze imitation of Styrofoam, makes a cameo appearance resting on one of them.
Tasset’s work is a stray object from “ASSISTED,” an insightful show occupying the gallery’s second floor that mingles Stockholder’s work with representative examples from artists who have inspired (“assisted”) her. Curated by Stockholder herself, the show by and large reproduces the omnivorous aesthetic of her own art. Michael Queenland piles cereals into plastic shelves. Nancy Lupo coats wire racks with Magic-Sculp and kitty litter. Haim Steinbach’s “Either/Or,” which nods to weird relationalities between wall and work, subject and object, might serve as the show’s mission statement.
Stockholder has a strong curatorial eye, and she stages intriguing conversations between, for example, Cheryl Donegan’s dyed cloth and Laylah Ali’s whimsical gouache paintings. At its worst, “ASSISTED” merely invites trite formal comparisons—Polly Apfelbaum’s spray-painted floor pieces add nothing to Patrick Chamberlain’s sophomoric panels—but these moments are rare.
Most significantly, the show attests Stockholder’s reckoning with a particular history of sculpture. As the three virtuoso pieces by Anthony Caro and Lupo’s humorous riposte to Donald Judd’s stacks make clear, this is a tradition of modernist sculpture and its muscular, mostly male apologists like Michael Fried. In this context, it’s hard not to read Kay Rosen’s latex lettering of “Rust Colored Belt” on the gallery wall as a snide politicization of Richard Serra, Caro and their ilk. The Caro pieces—one recent, one from 1975 and one from 1968—each navigate multiple registers of space with aplomb. “Table Piece XLVII” springs polished steel over the plinth’s lip in a manner echoed across the gallery by Jessica Jackson Hutchins’ “Self-Reflection;” Hutchins’ sculpture, the strongest work in the show, explodes Caro’s logic into a mass of glazed ceramic. Modernism ends in an explosion of foam, a flutter of neon. (Luke A. Fidler)
Through January 16, 2016 at Kavi Gupta Gallery, 219 North Elizabeth.
Elliot J. Reichert is a Chicago-based curator, critic, and editor. He is a currently a Hatch Projects Curatorial Resident at the Chicago Artist Coalition and Art Editor of Newcity. Formerly, he was Assistant Curator at the Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University. His writing has been published in The Brooklyn Rail, the Journal of Visual Culture, and Newcity.