Critics’ Picks

View of “Immortal Duck,” 2017.

View of “Immortal Duck,” 2017.

New York

Lex Brown

Deli Gallery | 110 Waterbury Street
110 Waterbury Street
June 9–July 9, 2017

Don’t let those foam cinder blocks on the floor fool you. Lex Brown’s first solo exhibition ain’t soft—it’s a razor-edged debut with a droll twist. “Immortal Duck” departs from Looney Tunes’ iconic 1951 “Hunting Trilogy,” where Daffy Duck is shot multiple times by Elmer Fudd but never dies, like some eternal god in an Attic comedy—though the cartoon is, of course, deeply American and quite current, with vainglorious characters center stage, avaricious and always craving attention. But Brown mines Daffy Duck’s enduring potential as positive and perhaps even as an avatar. (From the poem on the press release: “She’s like that duck, quack / here forever / and always fine, / So I don’t worry about that shit getting taken by Fudd, Bugs, / Bud, Chuck, / Chad, Brad, or any other brat wabbit.”)

Wave Sandwich (all works 2017), a fleshy, Oldenburgesque burger patty and grimy bun made from steel, chicken wire, fiberglass resin, burlap, casters, and paint, crushes one of the squishy cinder blocks. The work features the word rage in negative—or maybe it’s race? This searing ambiguity runs across a few more works in the show, yet the strongest pieces here are clear in their direct address. “Wabbit Season” is a series of laminated ink-on-paper drawings of Daffy Duck’s face. Dotted around the gallery, the works recall some of Joyce Pensato’s paintings, but Brown’s take is looser. A slew of hasty lines transform the character’s visage across multiple pictures—we get anger, satisfaction, curiosity, confusion—but most of all we see Brown having fun with these incisive works, which might just be the best survival strategy.