Friday, May 22, 2009

Ron Nagle @ George Adams Gallery

This show runs until May 30th at the George Adams Gallery, 525 W. 26th st. in Chelsea. Nagle is a well known and widely-exhibited ceramic artist from San Francisco who is known for his long explorations on the theme of the humble ceramic cup form. This show, entitled " Bookends, Weeoramas and Flareware " seems to be introducing some new shapes. I believe they are all made from earthenware, and although they look a bit too anemic to do functional duty as real bookends, perhaps they could support a gaggle of cd-roms or a kindle. This is the first time I have been able to see a one-person show of Nagle's work. There is a very matte, papier-mache` quality to the works, which are about six inches in height or diameter, roughly, and their color scheme involves lots of bright or slightly muted pinkish reds, browns and some shiny gold, bright blue or lavender accents. There is a definite narrative potential to these, but they're puzzling/compelling in the way some of that Phillip Guston imagery can be. The scrunchiness of textures had me thinking of intestines, particularly of the honeycomb tripe variety, or even of the weird point-of-view shot you get from those microscopic cameras used in surgery that always feel to me like you are a passenger on a log-floom ride. Here we go down the esophaugus! But I digress... some other elements of note here are miniature piles of bricks and/or smooth stones, which had me thinking that miniature versions of Ignatz and Krazy Kat would be quite at home in this world. Or perhaps they are stockpiled in readiness for a coming kooky revolution? I am less sure where the turd-like shapes encountered in a few of the pieces would fit in: perhaps Offissa Pupp will stroll by to enforce a pooper-scooper law. When this show opened, it had a small review in the New York Times, and I think it may have been there that a reference was made to some of the shapes as scrotum-like. Kind of a fun show.