Critics’ Picks

Lukas Geronimas, Custom Tub (detail), 2014, plaster, wood, primer, ink, graphite powder, mesh tape, adhesives, fasteners, Plexi, 59 x 24 x 18".

New York

“Three Cups Fragrance”

167 Rivington Street Lower Level East
November 21–December 21, 2014

“Three Cups Fragrance” takes its name from tea consumed in three successive brews of the same leaves. The précis offers tasting notes about this tea without a hint of further commentary. Routine, privately comforting, to recycle drink while savoring its transformations is not the action of one struggling to impress a visitor. But to watch the quiet concept of this show divide along a group of formally distinctive works is mesmerizing in its humorous light touch.

Oto Gillen’s portrait of a helicopter (Untitled, 2014), overdressed in double matting and a frame of sculpted corrugated cardboard, is one of several photographic pieces here whose figurative straightness contrasts with conspicuous concern for its support. The banged-up backing of Kyle Thurman’s gridded equine trade photos (A Possible Cast, 2014) echoes the images’ ephemeral utility, while Tom Humphreys’s crowning Untitled (Radiant Striped Edge, Man in Blue Jacket), 2014, absurdly monumentalizes a pedestrian whose shirt and jacket match the color of his iPhone, on a ceramic reproduction of a paper plate.

From here, the show performs a flip that’s reminiscent of a lens’s inversion of its intake, with traditionally mounted photographs whose textural focus brings them almost to abstraction, as in Moyra Davey’s playful 1979 triptych Tattoos and Elizabeth Atterbury’s gorgeous documents of staged sculptural environments, which could even be mistaken for photograms (especially Black Beach, 2014). A lone work in the round sits at the center of the gallery: Lukas Geronimas’s Custom Tub, 2014. This graffiti-etched fixture feels right at home, a culmination of the surrounding artworks’ sculptural desires. Layered with graphite, its rich silver looks as if it might have just come from the inside of a photograph. One thinks less about what it is doing here than how photography, with its chemical baths, became as intimate and necessary as our own bathing and cups of tea.