Shotgun Review


By Glen Helfand September 17, 2011

Concealing the seams is not a primary concern of the nine artists included in ALL THIS HAPPENED, MORE OR LESS. In fact, they seem to revel in cleanly imperfect edges of X-Acto knife slices and grids drawn by hand (with the aid of a handheld ruler). This is to say the show traffics in an elegantly funky brand of geometric abstraction. The works, more often than not, are evasively untitled, much in the same way that the show's title cryptically references a Kurt Vonnegut quote, and have some root in off-the-rack or scavenged-from-the street printed matter.

See Chris Baird's collage that kicks things off: it's a two-dimensional stack of fluorescent stripes excised from those thin cardboard posters you find stapled to telephone poles to advertise boxing matches or ethnic music events. The arrangement of the lines relies on repetition—the Southern California phone number for the poster printers is visible at the bottom—as do Eric Larson's Op Art matrix of CMYK registration marks cut from the edge of some offset print run. They could have come from some packaged confection, like Taha Belal's Date Bar (2011), a gridded deconstruction of a candy wrapper from a distant land—we wouldn't know the difference.

The show was curated by Jonathan Runcio and has the aesthetic stamp of an artist's highly selective eye. Astutely arranged in this impressively roomy new storefront gallery (where Runcio will mount a solo exhibition in October), ALL THIS is coolly elegant in its expression of a theme stated, perhaps overdetermined, in the checklist preamble: "...the artists collapse disparate sources or processes and embrace a

Untitled - Chris Baird - The Popular Workshop

Chris Baird. Untitled, 2011; offset print collage; 24 x 21.5 in. Courtesy the Popular Workshop, San Francisco.

makeshift scatter in order to introduce a renewed legibility."

Mystery in the ordered disorder, rather than legibility, proves a strong suit. The strange collection of vessels and tchotchkes on Claire Nereim's pedestals exudes a spare Wiccan surrealism, while Jason Kalogiros' series of Oriental Seagull Gradation Study (2011) photographs manage a solarized apocalyptic ambiguity. But it's Mariah Robertson's #62 (2011) that seems to generate the most heat: it's a triangle slice of a shiny color photogram buckling in a frame that cannot contain its layers of alien color and full frontal male nudity. It happened.



ALL THIS HAPPENED, MORE OR LESS is on view at The Popular Workshop, in San Francisco, through September 30, 2011.

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