Critics’ Picks

View of “Myranda Gillies and George Herms,” 2017.

View of “Myranda Gillies and George Herms,” 2017.

New York

Myranda Gillies and George Herms

Susan Inglett Gallery
522 West 24 Street
June 9–July 28, 2017

George Herms built his career on refashioning the odd, the ordinary, the found—his vision fit perfectly within the West Coast Beat movement and its lyrical compounds. In this exhibition, Herms is in dialogue with a new generation: his granddaughter Myranda Gillies and her handwoven textiles.

The tapestries that Gillies created for the exhibition honor Herms’s affinity for local trinkets. Each of her textiles incorporates ingredients one could find at a local bodega: Untitled (El Dorado) (all works cited, 2017) has embedded chili peppers and strips of lemongrass; Untitled (Top City #1, No. 2) carries cigarettes. Like her grandfather, her materials serve to orient the viewer in time and space. The strict warp and weft of Gillies’s work highlight the way that interruption and pattern coexist in her grandfather’s sculptures—for example, his So Anyway, where bottle tops infiltrate strings of beads. The connection between the artists seems to go beyond blood, which is the exhibition’s great success. Both Herms and Gillies use abstraction to point outward to the world around them rather than inward to some meditative self. The work, therefore, doesn’t spin a specific narrative but rather asks the viewer to travel through free association, letting memory and familiarity inform meaning.

In the context of the white cube, the overlooked objects that the artists choose—beads, matches, tinfoil—take on revelatory importance, as if they were characters of some deranged code that Herms and Gillies share. While it’s impossible to crack, the experience of looking at it reminds one of hearing people speak in foreign tongue: The words pour over you, but what sticks is the feeling of humanity they impart.