Critics’ Picks

View of “Shane Darwent: Flat End Dome,” 2018.

View of “Shane Darwent: Flat End Dome,” 2018.

New York

Shane Darwent

Spencer Brownstone Gallery
170-A Suffolk Street
September 12–November 18, 2018

One thing I love about Shane Darwent’s show here, his first at the gallery, is that it feels uniquely American—imbued with a plainspoken sentimentality for this country’s rural and suburban spaces. A quartered safety post, Bollard, 2018, is wedged perfectly into one corner, facing the wall like a class dunce, painted the same crappy semi-gloss yellow I remember from childhood. A pigment print mounted onto Dibond depicting white stucco brick—the same dangerous schoolyard material I scraped myself against too many times growing up (Splitface, 2017)—is shaped like a gravestone or an arched doorway, dappled with light.

The work feels sprawling, and it hums with the same kind of potential possessed by the terrain it recalls. Three sculptures involve custom fabricated commercial awnings (manufactured by a shop in Tulsa, Oklahoma—the city where Darwent is currently completing a fellowship). Two of them, Basalt and Ballast (both 2018), are composed from stacked awnings, preposterously vertical. Ballast is made up of three awnings, in primary colors, climbing on top of each other. They’re torqued at a seemingly precarious angle, as if they were a trio of dancers about ready to fall. Basalt is two black-and-white, Beetlejuice-striped awnings that stand upright and fit into each other like perfect Tetris pieces. The third sculpture, Bus Stop (en route to the Eternal City), 2017, is a mixed cocktail of the show’s materials—it includes half of an upside-down store awning, a photo of a construction site, fluorescent lights, stucco, cinder blocks, and wood. The piece is loaded with blues and terracottas. A turquoise bench curves through it like a river of hope. It beckons the viewer to sit and wait for salvation.