Many questions surround the new Rat Hole Gallery exhibition “Sex Booze Weed Speed”, the two-person show of sculpture and paintings by a Paris-based American Oscar Tuazon and a Norwegian artist Gardar Eide Einarsson. Where’s the sex? Where the booze? Where’s the weed? Where’s the speed?
And, where is the art? Even after a confused double take at the gallery press release, any visitors will have to conclude that the party is somewhere else.
Although the show is billed as “a site-specific installation conceived specially for the gallery space,” the visual evidence behind this claim, too, is nowhere in sight. Still, the effort does leave one’s head spinning — not from the post-party hangover, but from dismay at having to witness two young artists from the 2006 Whitney Biennial struggling helplessly against the renown of a few untouchable heavyweights of contemporary American art.
For example, the scale and color of “Stainless Steel (Fine VII)” and “Stainless Steel (VIII)”, Einarsson’s 2010 paintings displayed in the second gallery, instantly evoke Frank Stella’s seminal 1960s metallic silver paintings. Stella left little to explore — and it is unclear why anyone in 2011 would want to go down this dusty dead-end road — but the pictures do serve to prove that preying upon a canonical formula without understanding its intent, style and structure will not create new artistic value. As paintings they are failures; as experiments they are useless; and, at ¥3,000,000 a piece, they are a joke.
Similarly, in four “Untitled” paintings from 2010, Einarsson literally attempts to wrestle fresh subject matter into an ancient Warhol formula from the ‘60s. These shrunken, hueless and clueless amalgams rest atop other equally random, feeble, and economy-grade canvases for no apparent purpose or effect; we can only assume that one image wasn’t enough.
In the main gallery, Tuazon won’t be outdone in unlearned futility with “A Dead Thing” (2010), an anemic, arbitrary placed double “X” sculpture. To be sure, dead things deserve space and our consideration if they have lived a life worth living. This unexamined artifact wouldn’t merit critical attention — it is entirely forgettable — were it not for its incredible ancestor: Chris Burden’s massive and hellish “Dos Equis” (1972), a 16-foot, solid wood double “X” sculpture that was soaked in gasoline for days then set ablaze to burn-baby-burn in the already scorching hot California desert. Note to art revelers: Forty years ago this Dionysian-fueled artist knew how to fight for his right to party in art.
Tuazon’s other adolescent assault is equally in-step with the exhibition’s insignificance. “Machine” (2010) is an undergraduate-level contraption (or calamity, take your pick) that never makes it off the ground despite being plugged in. It features a recycled, long, rectangular Donald Juddesque piece of wood resting on the floor, recovering from an accidental run-in with a rogue Dan Flavin florescent fixture. Yet, apart from all the other unnecessary artistic concoctions in this exhibition, this “machine” has a purpose: It lights up — weakly — a tiny area of the large (and already quite visible) gallery floor. Of course, you would have to be blind not to notice that Rat Hole’s flooring is vital, compelling, and visually intoxicating … but, that said, you would also have to be blind to assume that this artwork shares any of those features.
One can only hope that these uninspired and star-struck wunderkind artists can score some real sex, booze, weed, speed (or art) before their next exhibition. (LG WILLIAMS)
LG Williams can be reached at www.lgwilliams.com
Exhibition: “Sex Booze Weed Speed”
(till Feb. 20)
Venue: Rat Hole Gallery
Hours: 12 noon–8 pm (Closed Mon.)
More info: Visit www.ratholegallery.com
or call (03) 6419-3581