Critics’ Picks

View of “Iodine Poisoning,” 2014.

New York

Andrei Koschmieder

Real Fine Arts
673 Meeker Avenue
May 10 - June 14

In “Iodine Poisoning,” Andrei Koschmieder presents a body of beguiling works that suggest a young artist ready to realize museum-scale ambitions. Stacked against one wall of the gallery are his corrugated metal boxes, tricky sculptures (or paintings) that may resemble steel heating units or perhaps just evoke “industry.” Their striking realism and rusty patina invites closer viewing with a readymade’s fetishistic appeal. But keen observers will quickly note their material lightness: Constructed from paper, these fake steels are sturdy, but their rusty exteriors are hand-painted facades. In place of the cockroaches that inhabit aging city infrastructure, Koschmieder populates his metal boxes with shrimp, a kind of oceanic vermin. The artist’s shrimp are also constructed from paper—ink-jet prints treated with a clear resin finish, which Koschmeider has deployed in previous works. On another wall, he postures his fake steels side by side like paintings. There they appear so stiffly crowded against one another that a subtle, sardonic humor emerges. The works seem to be whispering something about contemporary abstraction.

The exhibition’s centerpiece is another large wall installation that similarly rewards with a redeeming, jocund lightness emerging from of an initially perceived heaviness. Call it a nitrous-oxide high. The wall, completely wallpapered by the artist, presents a cluster of heavy, black ink clouds. The clouds give way to a series of monoprints created with the ink-coated body of a real squid. The method evokes Gyotaku printmaking—an eighteenth-century technique used by Japanese fishermen to document the size of more impressive catches. Koschmieder's biggest catch might be his ensnared audience—drawn in to the heaviness of abstraction, which the artist swiftly disperses—like a squirt of ink in a corrosive, unsympathetic sea.