Art can range from having a super straightforward to message to being very enigmatic about it. Sometimes, visiting an art gallery, I can have the euphoric feeling that I’m really getting the artist’s intention. Other times, I can relate to it on a personal level, and I feel like there is room for my interpretation. Once in a while, not so much. I just think what the fudge is this.
I do not believe in the genius artist who can do whatever. Simply putting out creativity without any apparent reason why they’re doing what they are doing. Splashing paint on the canvas as creative output can sure be decoration, but the fact that it’s from the hand of the artist doesn’t make it an artwork in my opinion. But at what point is there enough justification? Does it need to matter? Does art need explicit references to the issues or tendencies they explore? Does art need to provide all of the dots, and does the audience only needs to connect them? Or are there no rules and can iffy hints do the job?
And then you have art critics or press release writers (like me) who have to put into words the message/meaning/exploration/challenging/disruption of the artist. There’s a fine line between an interpretation close to the intention of the artist or straight out bullshit forcing meaning into something that is just not there?
As most people might know, some of the “blue chip” galleries in cities such as London, New York, and Hong Kong, have museum-worthy exhibitions. Of these top-notch galleries, David Zwirner is the top dog. In one of his New York galleries, that’s right; he has more than one, he presents Sky Energy, an exhibition of Isa Genzken with new and recent works.
World-renowned conceptual artist Genzken is known for her, no offense, weird looking art. Ordinary looking concrete blocks (that would not look out of place on a construction site), mannequins with random plastic sheets trowed on them, and collages using tape, foil, cardboard and metal clips. So what is she trying to say with it?
According to the press release of this exhibition, Genzken’s work “interrogates the impact of our increasingly commodified and interconnected culture on our everyday lives.” All enigmatic, the artworks are a consolidation of the legacies of twentieth-century avant-garde (I guess Dada, Minimalism, and Pop Art) and the twenty-first-century global society (I guess appearance-obsessed, driven millennials). Other themes include the tension between public and private and the deceptive nature of surfaces and facades.
According to the press release, the concrete sculptures look simultaneously heavy and light, modern and decrepit. Allegedly, this indicates notions of receptivity, communications, and openness. Sorry, but this doesn’t even slightly look like it’s light. It seems heavy. Period. Why would this imply all of these abstract matters? I like these sculptures for their minimal aesthetic, but why force meaning?
It’s debatable whether the mannequins of her Sauspieler series are victims of fashion of the apocalypse. She refers to millennial pop culture with her supreme caps, blue sunnies, and Doc Martens boots. It feels like a cynical reflection of the hype beast generation. I like this part of the exhibition but does she interrogates its impact on our everyday lives?
Perhaps it’s not clear from my tone, but I actually recommend visiting this show. It makes you want to search for answers to these questions. What does this mean? Does it matter? What is the message? How enigmatic. Such wow.
The exhibition is on view until April 12, 2018, in his 533 West 19th Street location. For more information click here.