‘Wood’ is hardly an original title for a group exhibition at rosenfeld porcini gallery in London which includes works by Roberto Almagno (Italy), Leonardo Drew (USA), Herbert Golser (Austria) and, most importantly for this post, Sebastian Gordin (Argentina). According to the gallery, this is an exhibition curated around a theme which is ‘the sense of fragility and timelessness’ that these pieces allegedly convey. Its title, however, point in a different direction which is the material used by the artists. It is this lack of intelectual honesty that compromises rosenfeld porcini’s seriousness. But let’s see how these issues find their visual reference in the objects.
There is nothing in common among Almagro, Drew, Golser and Gordin apart from the fact that they work with wood. That is why and in order to be as specific as possible I decided to focus on Sebastian Gordin’s fish tank sized installations combining marquetry with abstract objects and figurative elements to create more or less intricate theatre-like pieces and also on his book covers -also using marquetry. Having had a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in Buenos Aires in 2015, Gordin’s work is difficult to assess as art because it creates scenes from ready made objects as in DIY bricolage without bearing any conceptual preoccupation. With references to the comic genre of Fantasy and the cinematography of Tim Burton and Jacques Tati, his ‘installations’ are reproductions of a (sometimes) imaginary scenes of those favourite mass media products.
So what is artistic here? I am asking this because Gordin’s work comes across as itself for he choses ready made objects to create a reproduction of a ready made product (the film still, the comic) in the same – or, in an analogous- way that a curator selects a series of ready made objects (by this I mean objects not made by him but by others –the artists). The problem with this is that unlike Roy Lichtenstein or other Pop artists, there is no conceptual drive in his work. Thus, the only reading left for the informed viewer is the expressive one which transforms the glass boxes into disembodied self portraits of a self obsessed artist which cannot stop going back to that ‘golden age’ of infantile literary consumption. The times when the artist felt safe. In other words, this artist curates his own ready made concoctions to express the need to be left alone. From such a places is very difficult to claim artistic status, right? J A T
THIS IS MY ‘CAÑETE’S THE PILL’ ON SEBASTIAN GORDIN’S CAREER (IN SPANISH)