January 14 through February 11, 2012
I was introduced to Scott Reeder as John Loring. Yes, they were both showing simultaneously inside Sarah Gavlak's cozy Palm Beach space, but I had my eye on happily bright spaghetti paintings alongside spare lists of half-genuine, half-absurdist, stream-of-consciousness band names and TV show titles; these were not Loring's.
Once I was properly introduced, we began speaking about his recent showing of similar works (almost double in size) at the MCA and the origins of the imagery, itself. 'There is an element of wit and humor that I like to keep up,' he explains. Are the lists of 'Three Letter-Word Band Names', 'New Kinds of Music', or 'LOL Alternatives' a result of being an overly neurotic Virgo? (Nope, he's quick to reply 'Libra'.) 'They are very fluid and I think the context changes entirely when they're subjects or ideas that are really never considered.' Primary colors are the only backdrops for these works, which radiated a raw, experimental quality showing potent traces of Nauman, Haacke, Baldessari and Wegman. Reeder keenly maintains the purity of these histories in both facets of this new show, with their physical appearance as vital as their metaphoric content. 'I use cooked and raw spaghetti, lentils...there is an economy of material.'
The presentation of the works, his second solo outing with Gavlak, was practically flawless: the lists arranged in a perfect 4 x 4 grid on its own wall, with the rest of the corridor lined with his abstracts in matte shades of hot pink, blue, lime green and deep grey. These were familiar colors, seen in the blurs of childhood, which pushed the intellectual emphasis on the objects strewn about the canvases. As if strictly adhering to Minimalist gospel, each work was whittled down in nature to the very materials which built it. Yet, there is an enthusiastic dynamic of the objects across the surfaces (specifically the spaghetti reeds and lentils), rescuing the work from the abyss of uncompromised form and geometry.
A certain congeniality, an approachable quality pervades Reeder's aesthetic, one which relishes the laughably presumptuous 'seriousness' of conventional forms of Minimal or Conceptual objects. Calling upon the stereotypes of early 20th century captive, creative gestures is the first motion, reframing an academically bolstered vocabulary of art history in the present tense is the lighting of the proverbial fuse. Reeder recognizes the ultimate futility of cornering specific historical movements into works which offer no immediate narrative: firmly channeled exercises of color with imprints of either foodstuffs or 'friendly' typography appear as practically bullet-proof creative gestures so personal, but so true. It is a form of stand-up comedy where everyone laughs, and they're not quite sure why.
Shana Beth Mason is a critic formerly based in Brooklyn now active in London, UK. Contributions include Art in America, ArtVoices Magazine, FlashArt International, InstallationMag (Los Angeles), Kunstforum.as (Oslo), The Brooklyn Rail, The Miami Rail, San Francisco Arts Quarterly (SFAQ), and thisistomorrow.info (London).
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