Critics’ Picks

Dennis Tyfus, (Very) Last Christmas, 2020, colored pencil on paper, 39 3/8 x 27 1/2''.

Dennis Tyfus, (Very) Last Christmas, 2020, colored pencil on paper, 39 3/8 x 27 1/2''.


Dennis Tyfus

Tim Van Laere Gallery
Jos Smolderenstraat 50
June 10–July 15, 2021

Dennis Tyfus puts pop cultural references, Krausian satire, and peculiar nightmares through the proverbial meat grinder in “Satellite of Lard,” the Antwerp artist’s first solo outing at Tim van Laere Gallery. An anarchic sense of humor is on evidence from the get-go. Upon entering the show, one pulls a rope dangling from the ceiling, triggering The Inhumane Jukebox, 2021, which features the artist barking out sardonic a cappella lines from songs such as Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind,” Black Sabbath’s “Sweet Leaf,” and the Normal’s “TVOD.”

In thirty-one pencil drawings in color and black-and-white, Tyfus depicts himself as an abject cartoon character inserted into various surreal and quotidian situations, from Dixlike grotesques like The Wall, 2020, in which the artist appears in the guise of a cop being attacked by a dog and mocked by tree gnomes, to unsettling domestic scenes like (Very) Last Christmas, 2020, showing Tyfus setting fire to the family Christmas tree with a cigarette lighter.

Two hyperrealistic mannequins dressed as security guards (Strafstudie 4: Our Priority and Strafstudie 5: Our Priority, both 2021) threaten to police the space. Instead, they putter around on electric scooters in the middle of the gallery ad infinitum, mocking the surveillance power of these supposedly authoritarian figures. Meanwhile, Beuys’ Be(a)st(s), 2021, makes dual references to Joseph Beuys’s 1968 sound piece Ja Ja Ja Ja Ja, Nee Nee Nee Nee Nee and Martin Kippenberger’s subsequent cover of it. In Tyfus’s iteration, a robotically enhanced taxidermy cat and dog silently perform Beuys’s eponymous dialogue: the former nodding “yes,” the latter “no,” to haunting effect.

After the past year, in which the distinction between fantasy and reality became increasingly blurred by the ubiquitous screen, “Satellite of Lard” extends the visitor a warm invitation back to physical space, where, surrounded by Tyfus’s uncanny japes and ludic dreamwork, one feels as if one is jumping up and down on the Freudian couch.