Critics’ Picks

Miguel Ángel Cárdenas, Call Boy, 1964, PVC, objects, zipper, 28 x 28 x 6".

New York

Miguel Ángel Cárdenas

Andrea Rosen Gallery
525 West 24th Street
January 6–February 4

A glass case full of household sprays and soaps—like a shaken-up medicine cabinet—opens Miguel Ángel Cárdenas’s first solo show in the United States. The assemblage, Nog schlechts enkele dagen (1) (Only a Few Days [1]), 1963, is a fickle and incomplete time capsule of the year it was created. The clutter seems arbitrary and provides little insight into the Colombian-Dutch artist’s life.

Cárdenas excelled at creating suggestive, elusive arrangements of everyday items. He explored the sensuality of the zipper—that teasing metal barrier between dress and undress—years before Andy Warhol’s infamous Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers album cover from 1971. Open Fly Silver Star and Call Boy, both 1964, feature zippers halfway undone to reveal a collection of toys and mass-produced junk secreted beneath the works’ taut, shiny PVC shells. This erotic suspense is partially broken in later pieces. A plastic banana plays a vulgar game of peekaboo in Blue Lovers, 1965, protruding from the canvas’s cobalt-blue surface. In Hot Vagina, 1969, silver aluminum folds flank a vertical bronze coil that radiates heat.

If the assemblages are devoted to object fetish, then Cárdenas’s four films, played in the gallery’s back room, are odes to another Freudianism: oral fixation. The videos center on the artist’s mouth engaged in seemingly tame activities, such as slurping soup or sucking ice cubes. These gestures, through repetition, transform into processes both sexy and highly revolting. Examples of early food porn? If they turn you on, you’ll know.