Critics’ Picks

Anne Libby, The Noosphere Unground, 2018, plywood, venetian blinds, Formica, aluminum, garlic skin, laminate, 100 1/2 x 52 x 53".

Anne Libby, The Noosphere Unground, 2018, plywood, venetian blinds, Formica, aluminum, garlic skin, laminate, 100 1/2 x 52 x 53".

Los Angeles

Anne Libby

Night Gallery
2276 East 16th Street
June 1–July 6, 2018

Conceptual rococo is a common hedge, designed to lend itself to any discourse that would have it. I like something else entirely, a kind of concretism whose late place in genre history reminds me of a postapocalyptic settlement, both decadent and thriving: work by artists such as New York–based Anne Libby, where we can, for once, safely ignore the press release. I did, and so retained my feeling of disquieted attraction to her pools and pillars of—what, I don’t know; their coppery and vaguely aeronautical composites of machine parts looked from far away as if they would disclose themselves up close, but didn’t.

I saw Rollbacks (all works 2018) first, a stack of silver gear-like tiers composed of obround pegs, which reappear throughout the show in wooden, plastic, and metallic iterations. The works’ armatures share a vocabulary of curves seemingly derived from those of a piano (Channel Bank especially); sometimes their wavy combinations of aluminum and copper oddly conjure Post-Impressionism (e.g., Solar Medicine). Elsewhere, they are layered with unsentimental treatments of organic matter: laminated garlic skin. If I am speaking formalistically, it’s because I take Libby to be among those artists marked by a divine opacity opposed to the purportedly transparent ethic of, again, the art of the press release—an opaque surface being that which can deflect or reflect reading, such that after literal description, all analyses are our own psycho-. This work is the foil of divination, of self-intimacy. I’ll leave you to yours.