New York

Patrick Weidmann

John Gibson Gallery

Patrick Weidmann makes wall arrangements out of painted monochromes, frames, mirrors, objects, and photographs, grouping the elements in order to suggest the rectangular space of the easel picture. With these aggregates of fragments from art and industry, Weidmann employs familiar conceptual strategies that are neither personalized nor altered, and so gives his work the quality of a rote conceptual exercise.

Untitled With Mirrors, 1987, exemplifies Weidmann’s generic strategizing. In this piece, four long thin monochromes demarcate a rectangular section of wall. Set into the upper-left- and lower-right-hand corners of the piece are two rectangular unframed mirrors. The mirror, used by Robert Smithson with great specificity to expand and de-objectify the nonsite, and by Michelangelo Pistoletto to embody the viewer, is here devoid of significance and function. One mirror reflects the viewer’s feet, another reflects above the viewer’s head. Both capture materials as banal as the rectangular section of wall defined by the piece. Weidmann links the painting, the mirror, and the wall to create a void. His strategy is far less succinct than the monochrome and about as suggestive as an empty gallery.

Weidmann’s less reductive pieces, which include objects and photographs, are no more invigorated. In Micro-Targeted Formula, 1988, a rectangular sheet of metal embellished by two steak knives is framed on top and bottom by long thin monochromes and on the sides by photoprojections of Revlon makeup. Weidmann combines the industrial commodity with its ancestor, the raw material, then frames both within photographs of the commodity (on the sides) and two monochromes (on top and bottom), positing an all-too-familiar equivalency between intellectual and nonintellectual property.

In Trans, 1988, four square empty frames, punctuated by two aluminum door knobs, border both sides of another, larger rectangular frame. The inner frame surrounds a square photograph of stacked silver goblets. Weidmann’s juxtaposition of actual utilitarian objects (knives and doorknobs) with images of luxury items (silver goblets, chandeliers, paintings) suggests a simultaneity of attainability and unattainability, as well as the illusory acquisition of objects through photography. The empty frame, on the other hand, is again an overdetermined gesture.

Picture at an Exhibition, 1988, is composed of two rectangular burgundy-colored monochromes, one hanging vertically and the other horizontally. Each one is inscribed with a gold rectangular outline. Separating the monochromes are two indeterminate photographs of paintings. In the photographs, more of the frame and the wall have been captured than the actual painting. In this piece, Weidmann reveals an ambivalence toward both esthetic hierarchies and the “meaningful” space within the frame. The sections of bland wall defined by his pieces are about as suggestive as the monochromes, objects, and photographs themselves. Weidmann reiterates verbatim the rhetoric surrounding commodification and the death of painting, without internalizing or transforming it. He makes meaninglessness truly meaningless.

Matthew A. Weinstein