Critics’ Picks

Elisa Lendvay, Piss Dreams / Moon Beams (Yellow Flag), 2015/19, wood, steel, flattened aluminum, plaster, clay, paper pulp, fabric, mirror, gourd, acrylic paint, and oil pastel, 59 x 28 x 15".

New York

Elisa Lendvay

Sargent's Daughters
179 East Broadway Ground Floor
August 8–September 15, 2019

Hiding within Cone Hole Reach, 2019, a hand mirror trimmed with Barbie hot pink reflects nothing. The mirror is encased in the sculpture’s conical, concrete-gray base, whose tiny windows allow us an equally tiny glimpse of this charming yet functionless component. This thread of playful anarchy runs throughout “Rise,” Elisa Lendvay’s first solo exhibition here, an oddball gathering of characters seemingly plucked from dreams.

Lendvay’s quasi-figurative sculptures don’t really reference the human form. Modestly sized works such as Red Net Thread, 2016—one of several pieces arranged on a square platform near the gallery’s entrance—features a spindly excrescence, like a Claymation campfire. Nearby is Anchoring (Rust Chain Crown), 2014/18, a miniature archway with a dangling (and potentially tetanus-inducing) chain; the piece could pass as an étude for Giacometti’s suspension works. The viewer is then beckoned to the show’s main room by the outstretched fronds of Wavy Modulations (Ghost Growth), 2018, a sepulchral thing resting on the floor that calls to mind a sea anemone. Fusiform, Grasslands (Arrangement), 2018, resembles a block of artist’s tools. Some are recognizable: a sponge, a paintbrush. Yet others call to mind more fantastic, even kinky, devices, such as a staircase-shaped sledgehammer, a gummy-bear toothbrush, or a gadget whose crescent-moon edge might’ve been designed for tickling.

As its title suggests, “Rise” also traffics in ascension. Floating in an aqua-colored ribcage, the bronchus-like form of Wynken, 2018, hits just above eye level. Other works shoot up out of white pedestals, as if they were unwieldy outgrowths straight from the Earth’s crust. This note of the organic crescendos in Piss Dreams / Moon Beams (Yellow Flag), 2015/19, a structure made from steel, fabric, and paper pulp—among other materials—that appears as though it’s overgrown with algae, mold, or moss. The upper register of this piece looks like an Elizabethan collar that was fashioned from an abalone shell and is riddled with holes. In this work we find another mirror, tucked beneath an orb painted a rose-quartz hue. It allows the sculpture to gaze, lovingly and indefinitely, at itself.