Critics’ Picks

Pedro Wirz, Soil’s Memory, 2020, beeswax, textile debris, concrete cast, bronze cast, plaster cast, iron cast, toys, and acrylic on wood, 78 3/4 x 139 3/4 x 6 3/4".

Pedro Wirz, Soil’s Memory, 2020, beeswax, textile debris, concrete cast, bronze cast, plaster cast, iron cast, toys, and acrylic on wood, 78 3/4 x 139 3/4 x 6 3/4".

Zurich

Pedro Wirz

GALERIE PHILIPPZOLLINGER
Schlossgasse 5
November 24, 2020–January 16, 2021

Last year at Marc Selwyn Fine Art in Los Angeles, in the show “Termite Terminators,” Pedro Wirz exhibited grids of toy automobiles drowned in beeswax, a kind of apian gridlock. Cars give the illusion of individuation to human eyes, but seen from an alien’s point of view they are largely identical. And their offer of individuality is premised on a shared infrastructure of oil and roads that is bringing us, as all well know, to perdition.

This exhibition shares the earlier’s catastrophic orientation, but “Tooth of a Giant” brings the viewer further into Wirz’s post-apocalyptic world. The eponymous creation (all works 2020) is a shelving column of stacked chimeras, molded out of dirt, which resemble frogs with bricks for heads. They are clearly objects of possible or future myth: Not necessarily good myths to believe in, but myths that are, as Levi-Strauss wrote, good to think with.

The wall works referred to as Bridges or Knowledge Units can be understood as hinged wooden paintings or as hung painted sculptures. They consist of round-edged boxes with perforated French doors that close around a central cast iron sphere, and they recall, almost equally, the structure of eukaryotic plant cells, with their enlarged nuclei, and what are called demon cores, the balls of plutonium from which nuclear weapons are made. The monumental hung Soil’s Memory unifies the entire show with its mixture of exuberance and matter-of-factness, bringing to mind both the polychrome facades of Bolivian architecture and Peter Halley’s giant glowing neo-geo paintings. Put differently, it recalls both a cosmic mandala and something like a pinball machine—was there ever a finer summary of the ultimate savagery of Newtonian cosmology than pinball?