Critics’ Picks

View of “tear here,” 2011.

View of “tear here,” 2011.


John Eisler

Diaz Contemporary
100 Niagara Street
April 30–June 4, 2011

If the title of John Eisler’s ambitious exhibition “tear here” is an allusion to commodity and packaging design, it is also, tellingly, a directive. The bulk of the exhibition follows this command to the letter, with a suite of large wall works that are full of holes, though the pieces have not been torn but punctured right through their picture planes. They float too: literally off the wall, from simple metal brackets—and figuratively between painting and assemblage. Each one begins with a large rectangle of corrugated plastic, which has been cut, creased, and then peppered with a pattern of round apertures. The rectangles hover in front of similarly sized and cut sheets of mirrored plastic or flat black PVC, embellished further with lengths of gold-plated chain or steel cable. Cut along a central axis, each pattern yields a symmetrical form that—along with the flashy loops of metal gewgaws—suggests the sinewy yet looming contours of a standing body. This compositional maneuver and evidence of material dexterity follows Eisler’s previous works derived from staining folded sections of canvas and allowing the paint to seep through to create geometric Rorschach compositions; two recent examples using this technique are on view in this show alongside several winsome paper constructions. The new plastic works are just as fathomless: Their reflective or impenetrable interiors suggest a seemingly limitless depth, while the perforated plastic acts as a scrim to frame these optical effects. Eisler furthers this visual titillation by skinning sections of the plastic with enamel paint in regal colors shot with neon. In some areas, the paint marbles like crinkled Mylar, while in others it pools up in glassy puddles. With their bright coatings and shiny interiors, Eisler’s buoyant works make for an eye-popping collection that is worth a long look.