Critics’ Picks



Los Angeles

Dan Finsel

Richard Telles Fine Art
7380 Beverly Blvd
January 10–February 14, 2015

The big, black apple box in the center of one gallery (Affective Memory Sculpture: Performance Isolation Chamber with Audio from “the Animal Exercise” [Cat in Heat]), (all works 2015) could hide a man but has only a cat door for entrance. Inside roils a recording of Dan Finsel imitating the moans of the titular animal, which, like Robert Morris’s Box with the Sound of Its Own Making, makes writhing reference to artistic process itself, as an “affective memory exercise” channeled by the props of stage, film, and photo production.

Finsel’s last show at Telles also turned on art therapy, yet it took the form of more abjectly Jungian imagery in a 1970s, orange-magenta palette. A Bondo-pink butt with lips, mounted on a rod, adds a blob of color to a second, smaller room (Affective Memory Sculpture: Recurring Form [[Peair] D.F.=K.E]]), but the show is otherwise taken with black: skylights blocked by black Plexi, the wall behind the desk painted matte black, the floor lined with black gloss vinyl—über-slick unto slipping. A series of video stills, printed, framed, and hung high, show the artist dumping a gallon of fecal-looking paint on his own feet (Affective Memory Sequential Photographs: Representing the Representation of Representing the Representation of Representing the Representation of…of Production [Rosco Feet Pour/Splash]).

Gloss black, pigment of artistic id, pools in this show like still water. Light glints off huge photos of spotless C-stands photoshopped to grotesque lengths, straddling their reflections. With this handful of Affective Memory Photograph: C-stand photo drawings, Finsel points his special perversions at the trappings of the trade—a wink at Christopher Williams but also an extended flirtation with commercial polish. In the end, Finsel is his own best tool: Framed in a glossy black monitor the artist at last makes a fleshly appearance (Affective Memory: [A / The Cage]), as he cycles for half an hour between silent screams and gestures of shame prompted by a first shot of a small chicken-wire cage. Here, like a growling horny cat in an oil spill, is the traction we crave.