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''Lifelike''
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diiego, La Jolla, California
Recommendation by Cathy Breslaw


Ron Mueck, ''Crouching Boy in Mirror,'' 1999-2000, mixed media sculpture, figure: 17 x 18 x 11''; mirror, 18 x 22''.

 

Continuing through May 27, 2013

 

"Lifelike," curated by Siri Engberg includes over 50 international and multigenerational artists and 90-plus works that collectively pose the question: “What happens when we encounter something we think is real but realize it isn’t?” The notion of re-contextualizing everyday objects gained mainstream currency with Marcel Duchamp, Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol. Spanning four decades, the hallmark of this exhibition is the fact that there is very little having to do with technology – most all the works are made in a labor-intensive studio practice that is slowed down to where meticulous crafting of the objects is paramount. This brand of realism grew out of the Pop Art and Photorealism movements but those movements are not part of either group. Instead, the works reference Surrealism, often playing with illusion, and pushing the perceptual boundaries of our sense of scale and perspective. Included in the exhibition are Warhol’s famous "Brillo Boxes;" Vija Celmin’s "Eraser," an oversized version of the classic pink eraser; Alex Hay’s "Paper Bag," an oversized brown paper bag created from fiberglass, spray lacquer and stencils; and Gavin Turk’s "Nomad," which at first glance looks like someone asleep inside of a sleeping bag but is actually a painted bronze. 

 

Some of the highlights:  Tauba Auerbach’s painting "Fold," was made by folding up canvas, spraying it with paint and then stretching it over a frame; Jud Nelson’s "Hefty 2-Ply," a seemingly stuffed and life-size Hefty bag that is actually sculpted from marble; Ron Mueck’s "Crouching Boy in Mirror," a strangely scaled sculpture of a young boy gazing at himself in front of a mirror; and Ai Weiwei’s 1000 porcelain sunflower seeds, realistically milled and painted by hand (this is a tiny replica of his huge installation manufactured by a village in Jingdezhen, China). Among the few technology-spawned works is a black and white video, “Rain” by Thomas Demand, a meditative visual and audio allusion to raindrops repeatedly hitting the pavement. In fact it is a stop-motion animation comprised of a bunch of cellophane candy wrappers with the sound produced by eggs frying in a pan. Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan’s “‘Untitled” is a mixed media/assemblage/collage powered device with miniature elevator cabs, computer chips and working mechanical doors and lights, all of it challenging preconceptions of scale and perspective. Argentenian artist Leandro Erlich’s "Subway" runs a 1 ½ minute DVD loop of people on a subway, framed by a realistically scaled stainless steel structure with glass, simulating the experience of observing the motions of  a typical subway car. "Lifelike" not only stirs us to experience a combination of unsettled, disturbed, confused, curious, and amused feelings, but also invites us to question authenticity, to think about how artworks are made, and help us find a sense of poetry in ordinary objects.

 

Published courtesy of ArtSceneCal ©2013

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, MCASD La Jolla

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