Aaron Curry: Two Sheets Thick
Aaron Curry’s new exhibition at David Kordansky finds the artist looking for a type of ambitious formal and conceptual scale that has always eluded him, mostly one assumes for lack of studio and exhibition space. The gallery is pleasantly full of large, freestanding sculptures in bright colors and the walls are completely papered over with grey toned screen prints of liquid bubbles (Tonky Star (Points of Cosmogenesis), 2010). A bubble might be a metaphor for what Curry wants—a shiny, fluid situational space where forms in surface tension break and reconfigure. He may also want to tap into that wanton and fun impulse in all of us to burst bubbles, to spend way too much time with packing material, annoying everyone around with the popping of idle fingers. Perhaps, Curry just wants the pop, a self-proclaimed “television and arcade kind of kid” that can give YouTube clips as answers to questions in interviews. It is difficult to know.
One thing I do know, however, is that Curry did not completely succeed, and his Kordansky show is a curious enterprise. I felt two very familiar things tensions in the space, and the labor and joy involved with interacting with the work seems to spring from these oppositions—namely modernist sculpture that we know quite well from sculptors like Alexander Calder and Isamu Noguchi, and the fact that the world in which those artists worked, a time where people were not constantly overwhelmed with internet surfing, instant information, and hyper-saturation, no longer exists. The very real beliefs and social climate that compelled the modernist vivisection of biological forms into studies of the new has now given way to a world where both biology and the new are radically mistrusted and seen as empty concepts which expand, fold, and collage together into a fabric of constant disruption.
With Curry, you feel an engagement with this thinking and that can be interesting, as in the case of Mark Grotjahn, but with Curry you also feel the burden of basic formal deficiencies. Grotjahn seems on the same plane as the artists he critiques and reinvents, and my sense is that Curry is not. For instance as you walk around Curry’s new sculptures at David Kordansky, there is a vantage point in each where one finds the simplicity of Curry's sculptural understanding—there is a vantage point, usually if you just stand to the side of the piece, where a few rigid, angular moves determine and structure the sculpture. For instance, Bcklmnmppe, 2010, (shown below) is supported by two pieces of steel, perpendicular to the floor, which stand with small footprint in front and a wide footprint in back. Through these two rigid structures runs another piece of steel in the shape of a “c.” In other words, it’s a tricycle -- small wheel in the front, two in the back -- with a cross bar. Not exactly a dynamic framework.
None of the sculptors that Curry is discussed in relation to (Calder and Noguchi mostly) would ever allow themselves such simple angles in their work. Their understanding of space and what it takes to make a sculpture interesting to viewer was more expansive. As you walk around their work, different angles provide changing vistas and formal relationships. But in Curry’s world, a world that is apparently more complex, we find work that is simpler and not as thought out. We find work that instead of being sculpturally pushed and amped up by the new flows of information and technology, simply wears that information like wallpaper, like a bright burst of surface paint bound to fade. Though Curry is placed firmly by writers in the space of the contemporary, shape-shifting artist that “bridges the space between multiple mediums” and provides a mediation on the contemporary moment through accumulation of imagery so much at risk of losing its meaning as to be in a point of crisis, he feels to be at a point where he should go deeper, much deeper into the forms that he distrusts.