Friday, February 10, 2012

Taking The Piss

I laughed aloud when I walked in the door of the Luhring Augustine Gallery on 24th Street and was greeted by a pair of disembodied feet wearing bulky white gym socks and worn out sneakers in front of a white wall. My guffaw earned a glare from some up-tight lady behind the desk, but if my love of Duchamp taught me anything it's that art ought to be hilarious. The audacity of placing these seemingly common objects at the threshold of a new exhibition may only have been funny to me, but when I crossed into the main exhibit space it showed me that Marcel was on my side where Tom Friedman was concerned. This guy works at a very high level of craft to create some visually pleasing and very funny art.

For instance, here's the first piece you see when you walk into the main exhibit space:




I'd stumbled into the opening of Friedman's show New Work, which includes sculptures, paintings, and drawings across a wide variety of genres, addressing concepts of technology, nature, perception, and scope.

Across the room from the silver pisser was this mind bending god's eye view of a man flying a kite:



The kite is so high and so small that it stood above this guard's head, and was basically impossible to shoot.

My favorite piece hung from the ceiling, and you'd miss it if you weren't looking up towards the kite:

This styrofoam and paint Space Station reminds me of Enki Bilal designs. It's awesome. Here's another view, both from the gallery website:

Walking into the back room, Friedman scattered these styrofoam and paint apples, which all contained unique and persuasive impressions of bite marks:


The back room had this beautiful piece that had to be maddening to construct. It's styrofoam, paint and paper on board:


Friedman is all over the place, and that's his charm. He's as likely to make a beautiful form that provides retinal pleasure as he is to make a piece that questions the rarefied atmosphere of the gallery. His work displays a vast level of patience, particularly the pieces using styrofoam as a material. Not pictured in this blog post, but included in the exhibition link, are a couple of abstract and conceptual pieces that use word placement on paper to evoke images, and hand-made sculptures and paintings commenting on the hardware that makes video. This is art that is as smart as it is smart ass. It's worth seeing.

Tom Friedman: New Work is on view until March 17 at Lurhing Augustine, 531 West 24th Street in Manhattan.

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