Los Angeles

Brion Nuda Rosch, Self Portrait (Big Dick), 2013, acrylic, wood, 54 x 17 x 5 1/2".

Brion Nuda Rosch, Self Portrait (Big Dick), 2013, acrylic, wood, 54 x 17 x 5 1/2".

Brion Nuda Rosch


Brion Nuda Rosch, Self Portrait (Big Dick), 2013, acrylic, wood, 54 x 17 x 5 1/2".

For an artist who recently shipped, to Toves Galleri in Copenhagen, not finished pieces but studio documentation of his sculptures together with instructions for their re-creation, Brion Nuda Rosch’s show at ACME settled surprisingly close to its source. In this first solo outing in Los Angeles for the San Francisco–based artist, such a return to the authorial fount was a matter not only of facture (Rosch handled these works himself this time) but also of content, since the assemblages made from layered book pages and various objects are reportedly stand-ins for the artist’s body parts. According to Rosch’s itemization, these totems entail would-be onanistic portraits of his head, shoulder, arm, knee, and appendages, but any literal reference is eschewed in favor of fragmented formal jokes or a total absence of correlation. They also involve portrayals of another sort: of “bong rips at the community ceramics center” (Bong Rips at the Community Ceramics Center, 2011–13, is a found ceramic implement on a pedestal bearing a parodic relation to form and its institutionalization) and “worktables turned into paintings.”

Nowhere concerned with likeness, mimetic or otherwise, the cluster of vertical planks is nonetheless characterized by an undeniable anthropomorphism, bearing headlike orbs that focus the display. In this way, Rosch’s works descend from the animated reuse of the plinth by artists such as Rachel Harrison and Isa Genzken, filtered through the neo-slacker aesthetics of contemporary noncommittal painting. Titles invoke the subject as well, albeit in notably generic terms: Figure 143 or Portrait 191, both 2013, the former made of double-sided wooden constructions and the latter a rendering of a face via cursory monochrome paint marks on a page ripped from a catalogue. The goldenrod Portrait 111 and the black Portrait 107, both 2013, recall blocky Pac-Mans, mouths agape, due to the rectangle excised from a corner of each work. (And, recalling previous installations in which he emphasized the clichés of design by outfitting gallery walls in a signature color [e.g., turquoise, Pantone’s color of the year in 2010, the date of his solo show at DCKT Contemporary in New York], Rosch painted one wall the same yellow as that of Portrait 111, cheerily tying the room together.) Just two assemblages are actually designated as self-portraits: Self Portrait (Arm), a lumber pedestal crowned with a loop of rusted metal with an amputated, pink-flesh-hued, pigment-smeared sleeve dangling from its apex like a limp phallus, accounts for one. That the other, a subdued abstract painting posted on a two-by-four, is actually called Self Portrait (Big Dick) only underscores the tenuousness of Rosch’s specific references.

The material linkages between works also suggest that they were conceived as a group, as in the many pieces that allegedly partook of the same “worktables turned into paintings Wedged at the base or riding astride the tops of wooden posts, these gestural paintings play two dimensions against three, particularizing their respective internal logics and engaging the spaces around them. These interstices had the cumulative effect of confirming, if not producing, the willful agency of authorship behind it all—Rosch’s interventions into raw materials and the casualness with which he conducts such operations, if anything, belie assertive gestures, or cast them as subjective in their arbitrariness. Even relatively minimal acrylic sketches on appropriated book pages—such as the Wade Guyton–esque Figure, 2012; 2 Busts, 2012; and 3 Figures, 2013, in which Rosch obscures found photographs of sculptures by layering rectangular sections of paint over them—evidence the tracery of the artist’s signature so forcefully pressed on the reverse as to swell through the compositional field, in subtle relief.

Suzanne Hudson