December (Organized by Howie Chen)by Nathan Kernan
MITCHELL-INNES & NASH | DECEMBER 10, 2011 – JANUARY 21, 2012
“Having and giving but also catching glimpses / hints that are revelations”
—James Schuyler, “December”
When is a painting not a painting? When it’s finger traces in acrylic “dust” on a mirror (Tony Matelli, “Big Tits,” 2011)? A spray-painted poem on a giant sheet of reflective Mylar (Ian Cheng, “Bigger than Your Blog (ohm y god // Clayton Deutsch),” 2011)? A black blanket nailed to a board (Tom Burr, “Sentimental Suture,” 2011)? This poetic and elusive group exhibition is not about what it’s not about. Some works appear to posit a one-to-one relationship between the material work of art and its ostensible subject—like the way meaning inhabits a word—but feelings and painterliness keep getting in the way. A dirty basketball repeatedly bounced on a sheet of drawing paper (David Hammons, “Time-out (Basketball Drawing),” 2004/2010) produces a cloudy turbulent space in which one could lose oneself. Jean Dubuffet’s casual assemblage of cork, root, and stones becomes a “Sorcière” (1954). The press release, itself a work of art, consists of a page of exquisite individual words (such as flax, murmur, waft). Like the separate works in the show, these words lack the connecting tissue of exposition that would order them into a single narrative, allowing—forcing—the viewer to make his or her own.