Critics’ Picks

Luther Price, Panel Piece One (Six Panels), 1984, mixed media, plastic, dimensions variable.

New York

Luther Price

PARTICIPANT INC
253 East Houston Street Ground Floor
March 2 - April 13

Luther Price’s latest exhibition, “The Years Made Flies,” is not for the faint of heart. Ghastly, amputated sculptural figures comprised of dirt and plastic resin lie hunched and decrepit near the entryway (Ground Piece One [Five Life Size Figures], 1982–83). Further into the space, Price has compiled the regurgitated aftermath of dissected owl pellets like a bone collector into a grim, blackened mixed-media assemblage (Owl Bones I, 1984). While Price is known primarily for his underground filmmaking, the exhibition is a revelation of sorts for the prolific body of sculptural work he created in his early twenties as a student at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. The material corporeality and aging decay of these impressive, under-known objects of Price’s artistic juvenilia point tellingly to the textured processes of his later practice.

Panel Piece One (Six Panels), 1984, typifies the concerns of Price’s early output. A haunting array of abject figures and neglected detritus are scattered across the six panels of the large-scale piece. Barbed wire, scuffed boots, gnarled teeth, and cigarette butts are all amassed to grotesque effect. One gets the sense that the decades that have passed since the work’s creation have only added to its worn, spoiled impression; a dirtying process that Price’s art continues to fully embrace.

The exhibition also features Price’s Light Fractures, 2013, which as examples of Price’s more recent work provide a productive counterpoint to the earlier work on view here. The Light Fractures consist of eighty 35-mm slides per carousel that Price handcrafted by introducing sediment and chemicals that distress the film emulsion of each slide. Projected against the gallery walls, these ravishing abstractions dazzle through their iridescent color and translucent light. Price’s early sculptural practice has itself come to light as a result of Participant Inc’s exhibition. The pairing of Price’s older sculptures and recent slide projections lucidly reflects the gritty form and material resonance of Price’s art, both past and present.