Los Angeles

Rey Akdogan, Faction #20, 2017, acrylic paint, wooden French cleat, 15 x 24 x 3/4".

Rey Akdogan, Faction #20, 2017, acrylic paint, wooden French cleat, 15 x 24 x 3/4".

Rey Akdogan


Rey Akdogan, Faction #20, 2017, acrylic paint, wooden French cleat, 15 x 24 x 3/4".

New York–based artist Rey Akdogan recently described her practice as motivated by a fundamental interest in “motion, our everyday lives, and how we move through space.” Although these concerns were not immediately evident in her latest solo show at Hannah Hoffman, the more time one spent immersed in the exhibition, the more conscious one became of the dynamic relationships between one’s own moving body, the installed objects, and the surrounding architecture of the rooms. The experience was an intensely phenomenological one, as mundane objects that would have normally remained hidden in plain sight became palpably present.

Akdogan’s sculptures make subtle references to practical uses and public spaces far beyond gallery walls, often implementing standard support devices that one might purchase from trade catalogues or hardware stores. In the main room, for example, were four striking wall-mounted pieces from the artist’s “Crash Rail” series, 2015–. Each work consisted of two or three black powder–coated aluminum bars—five to eight inches in height and two to eight feet in length—that were hung parallel to the ground. These objects were, literally, crash rails: long, sturdy barriers installed along corridors to protect walls from damage. The rails’ original function was emphasized by their below-eye-level placement and the works’ titles, which list, in simple fashion, the model numbers of rail and paint color used (for example, CRA 200F [RAL 9005, RAL 9005, RAL 9005] solid #18, 2016). While the crash rails cheekily associated the white-cube space of the gallery with the antiseptic ambience of hospitals and other institutional environments, their industrial quality and repetition of elemental geometric units brought to mind Donald Judd’s serial Minimal works. However, whereas Judd placed his objects in orderly systematic progressions—“one thing after another,” as he put it—Akdogan had arranged her crash rails asymmetrically, enlivening the otherwise sterile environment with a spirit of formal play.

Works from Akdogan’s 2017 “Faction” series hung in a smaller, adjacent room. The apparatus employed here was the French cleat, a thin wooden plane with one edge cut at a forty-five-degree angle. Commonplace in homes as well as exhibition spaces, French cleats are used in pairs to invisibly secure items such as cabinets or artworks to a wall. The cleats were coupled (with the exception of one stacked threesome that sat on the floor, propped up against a wall) and situated in unexpected junctures near the tops, sides, and bottoms of the room’s walls. The flat faces of the cleats were largely painted white, matching the walls behind them, while their angled edges were variously painted vivid reds, yellows, and blues. This bold color palette ensured that, rather than disappear into a supporting role, the French cleats in the “Faction” series took center stage. By calling attention to these props, the artist destabilized the notion of the gallery wall as a zone seemingly free from the constraints of physics.

Perhaps the most incisive comments on the constructed illusion of the stability and stasis of the exhibition space (on which art institutions and markets depend) were the most subtle: Slit drape [rosco-solid black] and HHG [north wall_001Brillant-FPE], both 2017. Slit drape consisted of two dark vinyl ribbons that fell from ceiling to floor in the gallery’s main room. Drafts of air occasionally stirred the lightweight strands, alerting one to shifting air currents caused by moving bodies and opening and closing doors. For HHG, Akdogan turned a standard protective measure on its head in order to realize the work itself: An entire gallery wall was painted in a specially chosen high-gloss paint that gradually yellows when not exposed to ultraviolet rays. This meant that the UV-protective film on the gallery’s skylights, intended to prevent the discoloration of artworks, ironically ensured that the exact opposite would happen to HHG. The incremental yellowing of the wall, along with its reflective surface, which captured the fluctuating goings-on in the space, provided visible markers for the passage of time—demystifying yet another fiction of the gallery as unchanging and impervious to external forces.

Kavior Moon