Critics’ Picks

Misha Kahn, Can I Leave the House Like This?, 2018, mixed media, mirror, glass, 43 x 30 x 9 3/4".

Los Angeles

Misha Kahn

M+B
612 North Almont Drive
February 16–March 16

A sure sign of one’s banana-slip into adulthood is the shift of applying personal style less to the body than to the home (this is why it’s so hard to guess a snail’s age). Furniture has to grow up sometime, but not if you ask the right questions. Designer Misha Kahn wants to know: If a starfish does a backbend, can you still put your coffee on it? Can a mirror give you the side eye?

If Chairry, the chair from Pee-wee’s Playhouse, spoke in childish bromides, Kahn’s designs burble Dadaist poetry and sarcastic asides. “Just Around the Bend” is Kahn’s first exhibition in Los Angeles and the first solo show presented by ANNEX at M+B, a space “dedicated to applied arts” and editions, now cleared out to allow Kahn’s characters-cum-furnishings to breathe.

Around the Tree and into the Hole, 2018, is a tangle of colorful upholstered blobs arranged into something suggesting a couch. It’s fun to look at, naturally, but its short-pile cashmere embrace (which you can touch!) reminds us that these things are meant to be lived with. I want to live with these things. I want all kinds of things, of course, but Kahn’s creations, having crawled out of the primordial ooze of art, function, and luxury, put a twist on the drama of consumer desire, the kind that conjures the need for a puppy, a Bernini, and a fine sweater all at once. Can I Leave the House Like This?, 2018, zips up the harmony of Kahn’s deliberate discord: The blob-shaped mirror is framed at the top by a beetle-green fiberglass form finished with hot-rod airbrushing, and at the bottom with a burst of soft white fibers, as from a mop or disemboweled Muppet. The waggish thing answers the titular question: Just look alive!