CHICAGO — The matter-of-fact title of Melissa Brown’s solo presentation at Andrew Rafacz in Chicago, Thrift Retailer Discover, belies the complexity she attracts from the actual energy of the secondhand in United States tradition: Used objects carry with them their very own inscrutable histories. On the similar time, they function clean slates, reflecting human needs and associations and taking up recent meanings in every new setting. Throughout eight new work and an “exhibition throughout the exhibition,” all of which characteristic discovered and thrifted objects, the New York-based artist creates a world that’s animated, possibly even enchanted, by the multivalence of this stuff.
Brown’s nonetheless life work are the truth is dynamic tableaux whose topics are imbued with an typically uncanny sense of vitality. Look carefully and also you’ll discover that the tissue in “Ready Room” (all work 2022) is as clear because the ribbon of vapor wafting out of the diffuser subsequent to it. The jumpy keyboard in “Participant’s Desk” appears poised to lose a few of its keys to Lake Michigan, exterior the window. A breeze gently stirs a shimmering cell in “Windspinner,” and light-weight seems to break down right into a vortex on the middle of the trippy “Stopped Time at Lake Shrine.” Eggs, houseplants, water, numerous vessels — these all counsel life and development. But references to mortality — a burning candle, a clock, a figurine of Anubis, the Egyptian god of loss of life — additionally inhabit the compositions. To learn any of those merely as symbolic, although, would flatten the wealthy interaction between the objects’ legibility and illegibility, their previous lives and potential futures.
Two extra work are layered trompe-l’oeil renderings of discovered artworks. In “Recollections,” a tag painted close to the underside notes that the piece is a “Classic Needle Level Collage,” whereas “Smoking Sailor” options an archetypal naval determine, bearded and carrying a rumpled hat and raincoat, gazing into the gap. These works, particularly, showcase how the textures of Brown’s numerous methods, together with stencil, airbrush, screen-printed digital pictures, and impasto, create each spatial and conceptual depth. Segments of the picture appear to come back out and in of focus, nearly as if a number of registers of time are seen concurrently.
Introduced alongside Brown’s canvases is a two-wall set up of precise thrift retailer finds, which run the gamut from a decoy duck to a Darth Vader belt buckle, from a grey wig to a black plastic journal file, together with an array of classic glassware and kitschy ceramics. These things had been contributed by 29 Chicago-area artists as a part of a poker match organized by Brown simply earlier than the exhibition’s opening. Every invited participant purchased into the sport with one of many objects, so the show right here represents the general pot, gained by one of many artists, in addition to a nexus of this native community. The collaborative gesture introduces one other dimension to the exhibition: that of circulation and trade, of the embodied and interconnected human relationships that facilitate the flows of objects, and their important function in (re)making the brand new.
Melissa Brown: Thrift Retailer Discover continues at Andrew Rafacz Gallery (1749 West Chicago Avenue, Chicago, Illinois) by July 16. The exhibition was organized by the gallery.