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Mike Kelley
Perry Rubenstein Gallery, Hollywood, California
Recommendation by Michael Shaw

In Mike Kelley's "Central Mass" clumps of stuffed animals make up sculptural "satellites" alternately mashing in close or getting spread out wide.


Continuing through December 15, 2012


It may be hard to find installation work of the late Mike Kelley's that isn't seminal; and "Deodorized Central Mass with Satellites" (1991-99) clearly is. Situated more or less between Kelley's ratty-Afghan-and-stuffed-animals phase from the early '90s and the high-production-value era sculptural work seen in recent years, "Central Mass" makes its debut here in L.A. more than 20 years after first appearing in Europe. Since then it has mainly been shown in art fair booths, cramped in a way that may or may not have been part of Kelley's intention. 


In this large, clean, open space, the piece takes on a new and different life, with the color-separated clumps of stuffed animals that make up each "satellite" alternately mashing in close or getting spread out wide, with access to their own orbits. The quasi-futuristic wall sculptures, made of fiberglass with a shiny lacquer finish and equipped to give off a chemically fresh odor, become sentries with, if you will, room to breathe as compared with their prior lives and how they were presented. The fact that the whole kit and caboodle taken in at once is over-the-top, one which perfectly embodies clichés of how outsiders might perceive contemporary art, was very likely not lost on Kelley. Rather, it was just one of the many crafty conceptual constructions that he wielded. That he was able to cull from among the kitschiest and tackiest of our pop cultural artifacts to make works that became, through a combination of subversion and sheer conceptual will, aesthetic triumphs despite themselves, is central to Kelley's legacy.


Published courtesy of ArtSceneCal ©2012

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