Friday, April 9, 2010 review...

Dig this review from the Richmond based online mag about my two person exhibition down in Virginia!...

Not Particularly Precious

Posted by: anthony – Apr 09, 2010


When an exhibit is filled with objects dunked in industrial porcelain, male fantasy rattles, and adulterated flasks, “Not Particularly Precious” is an apt title. In j fergeson gallery’s newest exhibition, Adam Paulek and Kyle Houser transform perfectly functional forms into fabulously functionless sculpture. Their work varies in complexity and intent, but what doesn’t vary is their desire for the viewer to laugh.

Kyle Houser happily admits he is in the business of making nonsense machines. He describes his work as “kitsch reproducing itself”. He mixes surfaces, images, and references, purposefully using methods and materials usually relegated to hobbyists or contractors: industrial grade porcelain, flocking from model railroads, liquid rubber tool dip, vintage decals of Santa, fake flowers, and naughty brides. In less skilled hands this could create an annoying ADHD art experience, but underneath his fuzzy flocking and appropriated vintage imagery lie a rare combination of humor and razor sharp wit. In Houser’s work, kitsch isn’t mere decoration: it’s bastardizing force.

In “Tubor and Corms Landscape #1,” clay blobs, reminiscent of acorns and Christmas ornaments, are clustered together, hung on the wall, and coated with blue flocking. Green strips of Astroturf seem to drip slowly down the wall. The resulting scene is alluring (the flocking is hard to resist) and certainly mischievous. Did the Christmas balls drink too much eggnog and squabble with the model railroad set?

One of the most successful pieces is a 14-inch unholy hybrid of judge’s gavel, dildo, and steroid-pumped child’s rattle called “Male Fantasy Rattle.” The rattle is slightly ribbed and coated with thick, smooth industrial porcelain—the same porcelain as your toilet. The rattle’s end is dipped in thick black rubber. Metallic flowers and a vintage illustration of tarted-up bride in her wedding night attire, garter, veil, lingerie, decorate the rattle’s bulbous head. Instead of resting on a sound block, this gavel rests in an ashtray covered with Elks Lodge and the Moose Lodge logo. It’s over-the-top fun belies its smarts.

Adam Paulek’s work is more narrowly focused, concerned with one complicated subject: drinking. Paulek exhibits two kinds of drinking vessels, one ceremonious, one sneaky, but both are concerned with pleasures, perils, and governmental control of consuming alcohol. Based on early Iranian ceremonial pouring vessels, his wine vessels have absurdist flair. If a mullet is business in the front, party in the back, then Paulek’s wine vessels are the vintner equivalent: ceremony above, solemnity below. The backs of two or three small, pale-skinned, red-eyed ceramic bulls support the weight of the ceramic vessel. The vessel’s surface details a quirky history of drinking and prohibition. Dionysus releases fish that circle the vessel until caught by a screeching cat or by electrical lines. Following the swirl of images requires turning the vessel again and again resulting in boozy state of art-induced spins. Paulek’s other drinking vessels are ceramic flasks. On these, Dionysus is replaced by appropriated imagery from the Volstead Act—the act enforcing prohibition. On “Drinking Problems, Cycle III, Adventures in Prohibition,” repeated images of federal officials dumping alcohol cover the flask. Bulls thwart the flask’s potential—a perfect fit for a man’s inside suit pocket—. The body of the flask is rammed by a bull and yoked, via gold chain, to two more blue bulls. Of the eight flasks in the “Drinking Problems” series, the most successful is “Drinking Problems, Cycle I, Gentlemen's League, Hall of Champions.” This flask is covered with current and historical distillery logos. The Wild Turkey struts towards Mr. Boston while the Miller High-Life girl gazes down from her perch on the moon. Paula’s deft use of appropriated imagery prevents his weighty concepts from turning maudlin.

Not Particularly Precious, March 30-April 30, 2010.
Artist reception, Saturday April 10, 2010, 5-8pm. j fergeson gallery, Farmville, VA.


Anonymous said...

hey kyle... congrats on the review of your fabulously functional sculpture!

kitB said...

Congrats on the show! I wish I could have gone...!