Whitehot Magazine

Tony Feher’s Simple Pleasures

Perpetually Disintegrating Sculpture (1993) cardboard, silver paint, sponges, black cloth, 6x12.5x10 inches.

By JOHN DRURY, July 2023

There is in the purposeful placement of things, and even in an appreciation that which is found as-is, for the thoughtful artist, an avenue to self-realization. Like the reading of tea leaves, that tossed aside or haphazardly asunder - material stripped of canvas ground, and the tether of depiction - finds in that freedom, a space for the head. In place perceived traditional discipline, there is a cerebral wandering – if even appraised non-sensical (retaliation an unjust “norm”). There is, in Tony Feher’s street-search for the discarded item, newly cherished and itemized, apt metaphor the redemption of a crumbling society. 

Untitled (1992-1993) glass jar with metal screw lid, thirty-seven objects arranged in a group. Jar, 6x3x3 inches; objects in grid, 9x8 inches.

Feher, like no other, retrieves Duchamp’s death-dropped ball, to activate common material, not as the result heavy-handed manipulation, but unadulterated - in simple child’s play, contained accumulation and management the product of time and symbiotic, codified messaging of intent and purpose. His is the spark to the brushfire of stupefied layperson and the unimaginative sequestered, in the societal quagmire of political and religious ignorance. It is what art should be; confronting, perplexing, even angering if so be. And joyful, meditative celebration the here and now.

Untitled (1987) painted cardboard box, sand, plastic flower, 6.75x10.5x6.5 inches.

Gathered at the Gordon Robichaux Gallery, a modest cluster of his earlier works supplies resonance then in subsequently remembered trip, to and from the exhibition space, of celebrated heightened and mindful visual presence in the day-to-day, of passage. Here there is not the stained, or sprayed, nor whorish slathering of mayonnaise-like workmanship of material application, inherent painting (the fabricating, or falsities of a facile portrayal) … or the heavy hand of much in sculpture … or really, the pursuit of any desired and judged impressive skillset. There is sometimes (and too often) a certain disdain (even amongst peers) aimed at the unclassifiable artist, cultivated of uneasy and believed victimhood, only truly an attack of the messenger. So, in anticipation, the naysayer’s cookie-cutter evaluation then; your perhaps like (you), imbecilic spawn, heretofore, perhaps could – but didn’t make these things. And instead, the fleshy product of a de-evolving society increasingly homogenous (even clone-like), they very likely won’t; ours too often the age of thievery and monkey-see-monkey-do response. Feher’s is the cunning interpretation that sediment resting at the bottom of your psychic teacup. There is genius in Tony Feher’s production, an easy pleasure best recognized and appreciated. It was hard won. WM

John Drury

John Drury is a multi-media artist, published author, independent curator and instructor. Drury holds a Bachelor of Fine Art degree from the Columbus College of Art and Design (1983) and a Master of Fine Art Degree in sculpture (1985; including a minor in painting), from Ohio State University. John is the father of two teenagers, living in New York City since 1989 and has received the prestigious Louis Comfort Tiffany Award for his work in sculpture.

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