Critics’ Picks

Matias Faldbakken, Mesh Container Sculpture, 2011, two mesh containers, lever straps, dimensions variable. Installation view.

Matias Faldbakken, Mesh Container Sculpture, 2011, two mesh containers, lever straps, dimensions variable. Installation view.

Dallas

Matias Faldbakken

The Power Station
3816 Commerce Street
October 21–December 23, 2011

In his current solo show, “Oslo, Texas,” Norwegian artist Matias Faldbakken pursues a brand of relentless denial and disavowal, presenting one medium after another as exhausted to the point of self-parody. On the ground floor of this new exhibition venue (and former power station), 20,000 Gun Shells (all works 2011) are scattered across the concrete ground, perfectly treacherous for visitors in high heels. A series of eight framed cardboard “Flat Boxes” are presented on the wall with tape and marker applied; they extend Faldbakken’s previous explorations of quasi-alphabetical, quasi-gestural abstraction in a state of advanced degradation.

As one ascends the open-air exterior staircase to the mezzanine level, the Mesh Container Sculpture looms downward, cinched in an alarmingly off-kilter fashion to the platform above. Resembling a crushed shopping cart, it seems to destroy the link between demolition and expression asserted by John Chamberlain’s output. On the mezzanine level, the three hundred stacked cardboard cartons in Box Sculpture engage the majority of the space, but if one explores around all sides, one finds a haphazardly placed series of nine framed prints, some leaning against the sides of the large sculpture, which offer selected images of the artist’s earlier work. Puncturing and skewering every kind of visual idea that threatens to become inflated with significance, Faldbakken serves as a Marcel Broodthaers figure to the present generation of installation artists. His use of negation as a universal solvent of cultural values also recalls the work of novelist Michel Houellebecq, but with a less misanthropic flavor of nihilism.