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20- August 5, 2001, 10-6 daily, Free
David Cohen writes:
(Upstairs) 2000-01 Photo Mike Bruce
There is a tendency for international art stars, especially
those with "signature" styles, to risk in large scale
works the predictable and monotonous, but to surprise the viewer,
pleasantly, with smaller pieces. The handmade, the throw-off,
the experimental, tantalize with the possibilities of change
and growth. Even the act of variation on a familiar theme casts
unexpected emphasis on facture, say, if the "usual"
is conceptual rather than formal
in emphasis. Rachel Whiteread, interestingly, bucks the trend,
at least on the evidence of her current Serpentine Gallery show,
her first solo show in a public London space, incidentally,
and surprisingly, since her Chisenhale Gallery show in the early
1990s. The smaller works are much of a Whiteread muchness, the
Bruce Nauman rip-off casting of the underside of a table and
chair in her favored "wine gum" resin, a limp wax
mattress looking like nothing so much as yesterday's fried polenta.
But the show is redeemed by its largest item, in the central
gallery, Untitled (Upstairs) 2000-1, a mammoth, thought-provoking,
deeply resonant work rich in formal and technical intrigue.
If just one work, a small piece, was a winner, you'd think it
a fluke, but when it's the most ambitious effort that pays out
an aesthetic dividend, that's a big deal.
do you think?
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