Critics’ Picks

Salome Machaidze, Vancouverian vendetta #16, 2019, oil on Styrofoam, ink-jet print, ceramic, textile, 47 1/4 x 24".

Salome Machaidze, Vancouverian vendetta #16, 2019, oil on Styrofoam, ink-jet print, ceramic, textile, 47 1/4 x 24".


Salome Machaidze

Window Project
Erekle Tatishvili st. 9
May 17–August 25, 2019

The wall text for Salome Machaidze’s recent exhibition recounts the fictional story of “Vancouverian rebellion huckers on motorcycles . . . who decided to use non-biodegradable plastic bags instead of paper to create art, write history, and create databases that will never fade, disappear, evaporate, or vanish.” It goes on to explain that disposable plastic has been rarified through art—the high demand has reduced supply and thus mitigated climate change. The utopian theme builds upon an ironic and enthusiastic fantasy of art as vendetta, as a transformer that promises, through a radical aestheticization, the detoxification of reality en masse.  

Machaidze sets this ecological vision into action by working with a diverse array of synthetic materials, yet her political message does not impede the Fauvist pictorial language she has assembled out of gesture and collage. The pieces are freely installed throughout two floors of the space—lying on the ground, leaning against the wall and windows, or hung. Individually improvised but still rendered with a precision of feeling for material, Machaidze’s artworks—despite their disparate surfaces and forms—come together as a kind of walkable Gesamtkunstwerk. Machaidze positively paints with plastic, letting its varieties interact according to material properties like hue and texture. Light-blue Styrofoam meets colorful trash bags, glossy or mirrored films, transparent hard plastics, and objects including cables, packaging, Legos, tarps, car mats, and even ceramics in pieces like Vancouverian vendetta #13, #15, or #16 (all works 2019). Each one functions as an autonomous stroke, even as Machaidze collages the synthetic elements with photographs, drawings, and watercolors. In this way, the exhibition becomes a stage on which a piece of plastic shares the same power as a figurative drawing to dissolve the informal gesture of a neighboring picture—a celebration of intoxicating difference and of equalization in equal measure.  

Translated from German by Hiji Nam.