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Charles Linder
Gallery 16, San Francisco, California
Recommendation by DeWitt Cheng

Charles Linder presents twenty works in diverse materials and equally diverse meanings that explore the polarities of the sublime and the absurd.


Continuing through September 29, 2012


Certain artists used to be labeled “painter’s painters,” meaning that their achievements were most completely understood and appreciated predominantly by their peers. If some conceptual art seems to address only other dyed-in-the-wool conceptualists, there are still artists who pursue nontraditional, post-studio explorations and still make well crafted, aesthetically alluring objects. Charles Linder is, to quote the gallery press release, “an instigator of experiences... [who] uses poetry, punning, humor, and a witty intelligence to make beautiful objects from cultural detritus.” This show features twenty works of diverse materials and meanings, exploring the polarities of the sublime and the absurd and, of course, their various admixtures:  the sublimely absurd and absurdly sublime. If the ideas or origin stories behind the pieces seem arcane, the works — pigment prints, assemblages or installations and even a toothsome 1956 Porsche Spyder (price on request) — have visual authority to burn.


Speaking of combustion, several assemblages have been outfitted to serve as ironic lights. "Eagle Sacrifice" is a small painting made with pig blood and resin (a borrowing from artist Jordan Eagles) that sports two flame-shaped lightbulbs and is also a sconce — a hybrid object to be looked at and used for looking around. "Sparling Clementine," a suspended crown-of-thorns cluster of deer antlers and skulls, and "Burnature," a tangle of wooden chairs, make dangerous-looking chandeliers. In "Fire Swing" a circular track of white LED lights illuminates the inside of a tractor tire. "Hey Nineteen" is an assemblage of variously shaped gas cans, perforated, chromed, outfitted with yellow lights, all resting atop a mirrored pedestal. Oddest of all is "El Conrad," a black fiberglass boar (probably ordered from a taxidermy supply house), studded with red bulbs in porcelain sockets, like cloves in a ham, with wires protruding from its nostrils.

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