Critics’ Picks

Jon Pylypchuk, Untitled, 2021, cast bronze, 15 x 19 x 12".

Jon Pylypchuk, Untitled, 2021, cast bronze, 15 x 19 x 12".

New York

Jon Pylypchuk

Petzel Gallery | East 67th Street
35 East 67th Street Parlor Floor
June 24–August 6, 2021

While grappling with grief after the death of a close friend, Jon Pylypchuk cast a number of bronze “ghosts,” which are currently haunting Petzel’s soigné townhouse space on the Upper East Side for the Winnipeg-born, Los Angeles–based artist’s solo exhibition “What have we missed.” Pylypchuk, a multidisciplinary bricoleur who is known for crafting pitiable creatures from poor materials such as mangy fake fur, bits of plywood, and copious amounts of hot glue, first explored metal casting in 2008. Made in 2020 and 2021, the pedestal- and wall-mounted sculptures on view, largely untitled, are cast from scavenged fabric scraps and clothing including saggy underwear and flaccid socks: homely sartorial effects for our ungainly flesh containers, memorialized in a substance frequently utilized to glorify the dead.

Hovering somewhere between bedsheet spook, executioner’s hood, and death mask, the specters’ faces have features implied by holes that have either been hand-cut or came readymade: for example, the leg openings in an upturned pair of men’s briefs, which drolly suggest a set of eyes. The sculptures are just humanoid enough to invite projection, a feature of pareidolia, our meaning-making tendency to see faces in objects, which has long played a part in the artist’s work. Pylypchuk hails from a line of Angelenos whose art traffics in abjection and regression (Mike Kelley, Paul McCarthy), and, like their work, his doomed project of trying to conjure up the dead is riddled with pathos. His heavy spirits are variously patinated and textured: One resembles a piece of chainmail with its network of thick, gleaming knots, while another appears battered, tired, and tatty; patches of its ribbed, carob-colored surface are a corroded shade of green. After all, the patina of grief changes from day to day.