lundi 19 mai 2008

Gedi Siboni (Greene Naftali Gallery, New York)

The more it omits

Side show, slide show

Of equal strength

For the first and last day

Gedi Sibony utilizes a vocabulary of doors, curtains, carpet remnants, pipes, plastic, cardboard and foamcore--the basic supplies of both architectural construction and artwork storage and transportation. These raw materials operate as phenomenological staging grounds which are highly tuned to their surrounding architectural spaces--individual elements recast as provocations and indicators of the theatrical presence of the interior spaces in which they exist. They are installed within a spatial perceptual field that unlocks and dramatically heightens their psychological conditions while highlighting their formal qualities of texture, surface, scale, form, and reflectivity. Sibony's work exhibits a strong leaning towards poetic and even mystical or literary concerns, while at the same time employing the subtle spatial and linguistic logic and material appropriations first presented in post-minimal and conceptual art. But unlike, for example, Richard Serra's deployment of hard industrial materials, Sibony utilizes contemporary consumer-grade rudiments, more suited for "remodeling," which is precisely the register on which his work operates. Preferring an intellectual physicality to a purely conceptual approach, Sibony treats each installation as an unfolding and physically involving meta-narrative. Notions of presence and being both emerge and disappear throughout each exhibition with the viewer, the sculptures, and the space playing equal weight in its encompassing tableau. The material and immaterial logic of this theatre makes available Wittgensteinian insight into the relationship between objects, language and perception.

Karen Rosenberg:
Gedi Sibony’s sculptures, made of packing materials and architectural castoffs, are at the forefront of a popular genre of sculpture (see the fourth floor of the Whitney Biennial). Where his contemporaries emphasize roughness and fragmentation, however, Mr. Sibony finds harmony and affinity. In his first solo at Greene Naftali, the raw materiality of garbage bags, hollow-core doors and galvanized steel pipes is neutralized by the artist’s delicate touch and the gallery’s clean, light-filled space. Shades of “greige” (the decorator’s neutral of choice) dominate the main gallery, particularly in two works consisting primarily of carpet remnants. In several more intimate viewing rooms, Mr. Sibony exhibits doors and cardboard boxes adorned with bits of paper and tape and sections of Masonite and plexiglass modified with crude geometric cutouts. The works’ quirky titles and just-so placement can seem overly precious, as in “The Middle of the World,” a set of vertical blinds fanned out to form a kind of bird’s wing, and “Its Origins Justify Its Oranges,” a stretcherlike wooden frame illuminated by colored lights. Taken as a whole, the exhibition suggests some kind of narrative — perhaps that of a contractor who walked off the job to pursue a Ph.D. in philosophy.

Anne Doran:
Gedi Sibony finds grace in the waste products—battered boxes, hollow-core doors, carpet remnants, packing material, broken blinds—of our entropic plenitude. Presented with little or no alteration, these banal objects hover between the chaste self-containment of Minimalist sculpture and the promiscuous appropriations of assemblage art, their most obvious antecedents being Robert Rauschenberg’s sublimely factual “Cardboards.” Sibony’s current exhibition emphasizes the interplay between individual works and their surroundings. The main gallery is dominated by two large pieces of industrial carpeting shown wrong side out, whose opposing fields of visual static seem to extend into the room. The first, a horizontal expanse of gray, has a piece cut out of one corner—a void that echoes a nearby column. The second, a sand-colored swatch hung floor-to-ceiling, is precisely aligned with the gallery’s entrance on the opposite wall. Elsewhere, a truncated sprinkler pipe on the floor engages the resident system on the ceiling in an illusory ballet mécanique. In a shadowy side gallery (as part of Sibony’s understated environmentalism, the show is illuminated only by natural light) hangs a piece of Plexiglas, still in its protective paper, from which a series of mysterious shapes have been excised. It communes silently with a ghostly white cardboard box with a rectangular hole cut out of it. If such arrangements seem somewhat overdetermined, they also call to mind Seurat’s pavanes of isolated figures, whose schematism is not, in the words of historian T.J. Clarke, “necessarily at odds with the final impression of intense life.”

David Cohen:
Gedi Sibony's aesthetic is sparse without being severe. To the baroque and rococo of other sculptors, his sensibility is almost neoclassical, revisiting minimal art — but minimally. He favors slight but decisive interventions in humble building-trade materials — the show, at Greene Naftali, which fills the sprawling loft premises of this high-ceilinged warehouse gallery, favors materials such as leftover cuts of carpet, pipes, foamcore, blinds, curtains, and so forth. The show plays a joke on this postindustrial space by including the kinds of stuff that might easily have been left here by workers. The removal, by the artist, of any track lighting reinforces the pre-gallery raw state of the space. His vocabulary directly recalls Arte Povera, and indirectly many other moments in Modern and Postmodern sculpture (Gordon Matta-Clark, Richard Tuttle), but with a minimum of fuss: There is neither tragedy nor humor in the materials. There is no heavy-handed ecological agenda in recycling. There is little sense of the materials coming with baggage, of angst or attitude in the materials' desuetude. On the contrary, the materials have transparency, and his motives for choosing them seem formally and emotionally clean. What at times tilts his interventions toward preciousness is his penchant for poetic-absurdist titles: "Its Origins Justify its Oranges" (2008) is a rectangular wooden frame with bowed diagonal appendages and colored lights; "The Is should be capitalized" (2008) (a title where it only slowly dawns on one that "Is" refers to the plural of the letter "I," not the participle of the verb to be) is an arrangement of hollow-core door, paper, and staples against the edge of a corner of wall. Generally, however, this is sculpture that hovers between intentionality and nonchalance: The very act of remaining in that gray area is what defines his artistry.

Andrea K. Scott:
An alchemist of the everyday, Sibony makes stripped-down sculptures that may test the limits of your faith in art, but they’ll also renew it. “Seeing is forgetting the name of the thing one sees,” the French poet Paul Valéry wrote, and in Sibony’s work—congeries of carpet, Masonite, cardboard, hollow-core doors, garbage bags, tape—the stuff of a Home Depot shopping list assumes ineffable grace. The down-and-dirty game of Arte Povera and the gnostic wit of Rachel Harrison are branches of the same sculptural tree, but Sibony is out on a limb of his own.

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