New York

Vincent Fecteau

Feature Inc.

Studies in the spatial properties of black, white, and gray, in the contemporary relevance of a classical balance of form and content (think Mozart or Aphex Twin), in the sculptural tensions between architecture and art (somehow evading, by precision and looseness, the pedantry of other artists exploring these categories); deft and cagily dumb games played with the actual and the represented (for instance, gray trompe l’oeil crumpled paper collaged onto a flawlessly curved foamcore ramp is torn at its bottom edge to show the rough white fibrousness of the paper): Vincent Fecteau’s sculptures blur any sense of how very little and how very much is needed to activate whatever is meant by the term “art”—which doesn’t concern him except as an approach to irreconcilable, bittersweet situations of being, what’s often lost at the intersection of the actual and the imagined.

Fecteau’s sculptures, all untitled, 1998, are useless maquettes of rooms, or parts of rooms, or things in rooms, enhanced with images from Pottery Barn and other homeware catalogues and from shelter magazines. In at least two of them float letters with no discernible referents. Example: A clutch of colorful pillows (lime, orange, purple, blue, red, and yellow) leans against the wall of one little black corner space—actually a photo of such pillows pasted to a leaning piece of foamcore—lending the room a mood both boudoir and basement. A letter C (as in “item C”) is suspended above them. One could notice how the angle of the pillows matches the angle of light sifting through a triangular grille of needlepoint matting set close to the “floor”; how a “speaker” juts out over the corner; how an image of treadmarked metal shadows the grille on the “outside”; or how video-socket imprints mark the back of a wall, as if the unit could be plugged in for an unknown effect. It’s the floating C, though, that signals how his environments are models of an elsewhere, referred to but perhaps impossible to inhabit.

Displayed on a white tabletop, some abutting the edge, each of the six sculptures investigates individual concerns of how space (air, light, mood) connects to and appears in other spaces via corridors, doorways, window frames. Together they form a modular mindscape, recalling the futurist elegance of the 1982 computer fantasy Tron, the ominous interiors and geometries of Richard Hamilton, bachelor pads of the imaginary. To approach the strange delicacy and resilience of Fecteau’s works—although they traffic in doubt and erasure, they hold together by the adhesive magic of belief—it would be helpful to reconsider the erotic, contemplative theaters of Joseph Cornell. Despite obvious differences, Fecteau, like Cornell, uses making to get at something beyond materiality while simultaneously paying homage to both materials (foamcore, craft notions, glass block, Formica) and their photographic representation. Fecteau’s structures stage dramas of his (and our) own doubt and fascination with the way life slows down, eddying, around surprising, idiosyncratic things: the depth of a flimsy pop song; the sleek, manly reticence of television and audio cabinetry; magazine reading in general, fashion and design glossies in particular; interiorities imagined out of the carefully selected furniture, artworks, lighting fixtures, wallpaper, and fabric swatches in catalogues and ads; the eroticism of that imagining. Small and quiet, composed like chamber music, Fecteau’s pieces situate a pause in which the consolation of everything never quite approaching meaning accrues.

Bruce Hainley