New York

Scott Reeder, Post Good, 2013, acrylic on canvas, 20 x 16".

Scott Reeder, Post Good, 2013, acrylic on canvas, 20 x 16".

Scott Reeder

Lisa Cooley

Scott Reeder, Post Good, 2013, acrylic on canvas, 20 x 16".

A row of thirty two-word text paintings ran the length of Scott Reeder’s recent inaugural show at Lisa Cooley. The variously twee and anarchic pronouncements were painted Ed Ruscha style in acrylic on small panels of stretched canvas (all works 2013), and began with COPS KISS, POST CATS, and FAKE RICH, continued with IFFY IDOL, REAL EVIL, and JPEG LIFE, and finally delivered the viewer to the rear of the gallery with JUST INFO, DARK MATH, and COOL SHIT. Across the room, and filling out the other walls of the main gallery space, luxuriously sized oil and enamel paintings radiated a pleasing spectrum of grass and sky tones (green, various blues, and nighttime black). Though compositionally abstract, these “Untitled (Pasta Paintings)” apparently feature, as their title suggests, marks made with spaghetti. (Reeder sprinkled the pasta on the canvas, painted over it, then brushed it away, leaving behind a galaxy of tiny white silhouettes). Each work pictures this carbohydrate- and gluten-rich comestible (and thus the most decadent/taboo of foodstuffs, given our ketogenically oriented diets) in a different material state: raw and straight, cooked and sinuous, or alphabet shaped. The conversation established by these two bodies of work—between the multitude of caustic, if generally nonsensical, protest signs and the spare grouping of lavish, nonrepresentational noodle-fields—was the first the viewer confronted.

Strewn in the corner where the orderly row of text paintings began were nine sheets of what appeared to be blank 8 1/2 x 11" printer paper (Papers). Then, in a semienclosed area at the rear of the space, four more pieces of “paper” (this time crumpled) were scattered on the ground. Titled Bad Ideas, the multipart work sat just a few feet away from a single, cartoonishly large Bad Idea. All “papers” were, in fact, rendered in painted aluminum; none contained a single word of writing. Writing was abundant, however, on the two chalk-on-chalkboard-paint works mounted nearby, Song Titles and Alternate Titles for Recent Exhibitions I’ve Seen. In these pieces, Reeder has filled the surface of each work with wry one-liners describing/deriding contemporary conceptual strategies, including: MAD AT MUSEUMS (PART 6); BELIEVE IT OR NOT, I OWN A COMPUTER; and JUST THINK OF ME AS A PHILOSOPHER WHO SELLS THINGS.

Near the gallery’s entrance, a neon sign offered what might have been taken as the key to this show. Flickering between cool and uncool, the piece (titled UNCOOL) provided a fair advertisement for the kind of droll, at times self-deprecating, works found inside. But what of it all? Does the preemptive critique ostensibly produced by Reeder’s self-reflexivity actually tell us something we don’t already know—about the true value of his work or about our relationship as viewers to the gallery-as-value-generating context? When “uncool” is “cool” and vice versa, does such a designation even matter? But surely the efficacy of these tired one-liners wasn’t the meat of the show. Maybe the point was simply that, sometimes, everyone needs a little levity, and Reeder’s knack for comedy via language and form brings to mind the art world’s best—Rob Pruitt and Adam McEwen, among other jokesters. And maybe it’s Reeder who gets the last laugh. In case anyone wanted to discuss the show with him directly, the artist generously made his personal number available to all, with the neon sign 312-718-9800 hanging near Bad Ideas—“generously,” that is, until you consider that these days, few would actually ever consider dialing it; another wink-wink “bad idea” he knows you already know.

Caroline Busta