Critics’ Picks

View of “Beverly Semmes,” 2016.

View of “Beverly Semmes,” 2016.

New York

Beverly Semmes

Susan Inglett Gallery
522 West 24 Street
February 4–March 19, 2016

“A heartfelt seduction lasts a lifetime,” says the archly camp English band Black Box Recorder. And, no joke, they’re right, especially when it comes to Meret Oppenheim, whose sexy, Surrealist works balance nightmare and Eros with sinister aplomb. Beverly Semmes’s exhibition here, “Rabbit Hole,” is a love letter dropped into the abyss—an homage to Oppenheim’s fur-lined teacup, spoon, and saucer from 1936, Object.

Semmes’s colorful fabric “Ghost” sculptures, made between 1996 and 2016, are T-pinned to the walls of gallery, and all six of them wear little sewn-on skirts. Two carry patterns of dots and ladybug spots, while the rest have small emblems attached to their centers: black-and-white diagrams from Erle Loran’s Cezanne’s Compositions (1943), a picture of a single hand from Oppenheim’s Fur Gloves with Wooden Fingers, 1936, and something that looks like a turquoise navel or asshole. Though they bear some resemblance to Semmes’s early iconic dress sculptures, these works are more abstract and formally simple. They call to mind so many things: mittens, rocket ships, cartoon fish, shrouds, or even Haitian Vodou flags—sacred objects meant to hypnotize you into realms otherworldly and divine.

In the center of the main space is Cups, 2015, a group of gnarly-looking ceramic teacups sitting atop bits of Day-Glo yellow fleece and squat, rough-hewn ceramic plinths. They’re kind of homely, rather lovely, and somehow vulnerable: things that seem a little afraid of getting too close to the object they cherish the most.