Critics’ Picks

Cameron Gray, I Have A Feeling I Shall Go Mad. I Cannot Go On Longer In These Terrible Times. I Shan't Recover This Time. I Hear Voices And Cannot Concentrate On My Work. I Have Fought Against It But Cannot Fight Any Longer…Naww, Fuck It, I'm Good, 2011, blue ray DVD Players and televisions, 87 x 150".

New York

Cameron Gray

Mike Weiss Gallery
520 West 24th Street
June 20–August 17, 2013

Huddled in a corner sporting green hair and an amusing poker face, Cameron Gray figured as a part of his own exhibition’s opening night. Mustard and ketchup bottles lay strewn next to a stack of free T-shirts featuring one of the artist’s designs. On the walls, a few sexy pinups have had their faces replaced with psychedelic patterns, while a sultry photograph features Marlon Brando with his eyes topped by two fake donuts. The admittedly garish aesthetics here coupled with the artist’s impish narcissism (see the exhibition’s title, “Cameron Gray: Birth of a Legend”) seem tempered by a genuine sense of humor. Three tiers of nine video monitors greet the visitor with Day-Glo effervescence and an impossibly long title: I Have a Feeling I Shall Go Mad. I Cannot Go On Longer in These Terrible Times. I Shan’t Recover This Time. I Hear Voices and Cannot Concentrate on My Work. I Have Fought Against It But Cannot Fight Any Longer...Naww, Fuck It, I’m Good, 2011. Footage of a young Jack Nicholson, a crying baby, and Betty Boop is interwoven with text (“HOLY SHIT,” in one instance) into a hallucinatory field of imagery. Recalling Marco Brambilla’s baroque video loops, the piece also borrows from the Internet meme, the low-tech video game, and the gnomic inanity of teen magazines. (Some tenuous derivation from the photomontages of Hannah Höch might be traced.)

Bringing similarly agglutinative imagery into three dimensions, It’s Been a Series of Unforeseen and Unexpected Circumstances Outside of My Control, 2012, reveals a seemingly infinite conglomerate of cutout photographic reproductions, objects, and slogans. Wood, foam, and ceiling tiles jostle with a fishing pole; a fake rose seems to sprout from an unidentified mass, while the words “I SMOKE AT PARTIES” flanks a slate-blue bust of Abraham Lincoln. One wonders about the site-specificity of the works. How will this highbrow flotsam distinguish itself on the terra firma of a less quixotic ambience? A bewigged eighteenth-century bust incorporated alongside the black lights and LED flashes of Black Boyfriend, 2013, suggests the artist’s acknowledgement of his rococo excess.