Friday, March 29, 2013

Chronicle @Denny

JTF (just the facts): A group show consisting of work by four artists, variously framed and matted, and hung against white walls in the main gallery space and the smaller back room. (Installation shots at right.)

The following artists/photographers have been included in the exhibit, with details in parentheses:
  • Nadja Frank (1 Super 8 film transferred to digital file projected on marble, 40x29x1, from 2013, 2 inkjet prints, 35x44, in editions of 5, from 2010, 3 concrete, gravel, resin and pigment sculptures, from 16x12x8 to 21x11x9, all from 2013)
  • Riitta Ikonen (2 digital c-prints, 26x39 and 18x18, in editions of 7 and 5 respectively, from 2007 and 2008, 1 11:52  minute video performance, in an edition of 5, from 2012)
  • Sarah Kabot (3 archival pigment prints, 59x30x2, 43x30x1, and 20x18/2, all from 2012, 1 set of 3 site specific mirrors with archival pigment prints, 18, 12, and 6 inch diameters, from 2013)
  • Jackie Mock (1 set of paintbrushes, 19x6x1, from 2010, 1 cabinet of spoons, 108x18x19, from 2013, 1 wooden case of paint samples, 27x33x3, from 2012)
Comments/Context: The prevailing narrative of the current contemporary art world is one led by the menacing encroachment of the genetically-modified, go big or go home, mega gallery system and its crowding out of the middle tier of well-established players. What is being overlooked in this story line is the flowering of new storefront galleries popping up on the Lower East Side, in Brooklyn, and elsewhere in the city, where leading edge and emerging art is being displayed with quirky eclecticism and smart professionalism. Smash these entrepreneurial folks out of Chelsea with punishingly high rents and they'll tenaciously appear elsewhere in new forms and under new names. If we're fearful of the monolithic beast of big box art, we need to spend our time carefully watching the underlying structural transformation taking place and following the emergence of these new venues.
Denny Gallery is one of the new spots to track on the LES. A subset of the current group show contains artists using photography as part of their artistic practice. Nadja Frank has modified the walls of a Carrara marble quarry, painting the rough facets in pastel blue, green, and purple. The resulting images transform the place from an industrial site to something more abstract, with slabs of soft man-made color echoing across the open space. Sarah Kabot's photographs of bookshelves play with the sculptural third dimension of protruding space; book spines jut outward in prints that are accordion folded or shredded into long strands of fringe. Up in the corners of the gallery, what look like security mirrors turn out to be layered modifications, where mixed shards of mirror reflect the long fluorescent bulbs on the gallery ceiling and collaged inlaid photographs repeat the motifs. In the back room, Riitta Ikonen uses photography to document her performances and interventions, lying in a snowless, turned over farm field dressed as a peppy white snowflake or perching in a park tree on a dreary London day clad in a green leaf costume.
All in, there are nuggets of intriguing ideas worth following in each body of work here. For a young gallery still finding its way, it's a promising photographic start.
Collector's POV: The photographic works in this show are priced as follows. Nadja Frank's inkjet prints are $3800 each, while her video on marble is $3000. Sarah Kabot's pigment print sculptures range from $1500 to $3500, with the mirrors marked POR. Riitta Ikonen's prints are $1650 and $3200 each, based on size. None of these artists has any significant secondary market history, so gallery retail is likely the best/only option for those collectors interested in following up.
Rating: * (one star) GOOD (rating system described here)

Transit Hub:
  • Nadja Frank feature: FlashArt (here)
  • Riitta Ikonen artist site (here)
  • Sarah Kabot artist site (here)

Through March 30th

Denny Gallery
261 Broome Street
New York, NY 10002

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