Critics’ Picks

Richard Wright, (no title), 2011, acrylic on wall, dimensions variable. Installation view.

Richard Wright, (no title), 2011, acrylic on wall, dimensions variable. Installation view.


“Still Life”

Lismore Castle Arts
Lismore Castle Arts Lismore
April 9–September 30, 2011

The inclusion of Sherrie Levine in this show alongside five younger artists—Gillian Carnegie, Anne Collier, Mark Leckey, Seth Price, and Richard Wright—was an inspired decision. Levine’s presence here not only demonstrates the continuing significance of the Pictures generation’s legacy, but also points to how expanded that tradition has become. “Still Life” reveals her methods of repetition and copying as now so diffuse in contemporary art practices as to warrant consideration beyond challenges to notions of uniqueness, authenticity, and originality.

The curator Polly Staple perceptively suggests in her accompanying statement that our desire for aesthetic objects is not usurped by “the endless manufacture and accumulation of ‘things.’ ” Carnegie paints images of plants whose use of color and impasto varies from work to work. Collier presents two large C-prints in which pairs of hands holding books with photographs of a seascape and a galaxy, respectively, while Levine shows twenty-four postcards titled “Aspens in Flagstaff,” 2009. Price’s “Vintage Bomber,” 2008, is a series of three polystyrene reliefs of a jacket, and Leckey’s video appears to be a camera panning across the reflection of a room in one of Jeff Koons’s shiny bunny sculptures but turns out to be an animation. Finally, in Wright’s work, the interior of a turret is painted with a pattern of black triangles on white that reflects the structure’s form.

If we take Staple at her word, we might understand desire in relation to how the fascination of images and objects can be enhanced by reproduction rather than depletion. That is, “things” continue to compel our engagement in any number of ways, including a prompt to possess and transform them. Moreover, “endless manufacture and accumulation” suggests that images and objects are always and already decontextualized, and hence “Still Life” carries a strong sense of the artists’ engagement with their references, an engagement that is often tactile and visceral, rather than, pace the Pictures generation, coolly distanced.