"House Hold" and "Napoleon's Wallpaper" at FFAT


Scotty Hensler: Home Making

5&J gallery opens a new group exhibition, “House Hold”, featuring works from Alberto Careaga, Scotty Hensler, Kathy Kelley, and Mark Watjen. Reshaping objects from the home, each work addresses some aspect of the ways people interact with their homes, and to the dialectical relationship of the notions homes embody to the way they are constructed in response our social, familial, and cultural norms.


Scotty Hensler: Home Making

Scotty Hensler’s Home Making deconstructs the structural frame and interior trappings of a house and reassembles a nearly surrealistic, 3D collage from the separate elements. Divided into 4 quarters not functionally, but attempting the inversion of a room, the contents of each separate quarter would have worked as well had the arrangement been reversed (as an enclosure or a conventional room). Lumber, clothing, house paint, and drywall serve none of the purpose they do in a real space, but serve no individual purpose at all in the comical disarray of the arrangement.

Kathy Kelley: failure to thrive

Kathy Kelley’s failure to thrive presents recycled bed upholstery reshaped in the form of a female reproductive system. Each of three constructions, blue, cream, and pink, are made of mattress and sofa cushioning and fabric held together with plastic zip ties. The message is clear—used bedding roughly formed into reproductive tissue as a stand in for a damaged, used-up feminine identity at the hands of the domestic environment formed for it. While well-conceived and executed, it is also gigantic piece thrice implemented to communicate a concept thoroughly independent of scale and clear with only 1 iteration. A vocabulary of structure, texture, scale, and color can and should play centrally in fleshing out the concept driving the work’s creation. In this case, I question whether 3 sets of mattress ovaries spanning 15 feet lends me more insight than a construction 1/10th of the size would have.


Candace Hicks: Napoleon's Wallpaper


In “Napoleon’s Wallpaper” by Candace Hicks, now on view at the LHUCA, she seems to be mocking the actual idea of the gallery/museum exhibition while partaking in it. “Napoleon’s Wallpaper” works just as well as “Having My Cake and Eating It Too”. Each piece almost nihilistically mocks the tropes of fine art and its display. Lining the entire wall of the room in which the exhibition is installed is a line of rambling, disjointed text, poking at the often paragraphs-long exhibition statements artists often indulge in.


Candace Hicks: Napoleon's Wallpaper

On the walls, gallery-white Rococo frames house thin pieces of paper with low-quality prints of nature scenes and overlaid with text like “This is just a painting. It’s not a door or a window and it doesn’t open.” Pretentious-looking pedestals house child-like flipbooks of sea scenes. Through these, Hicks gets at the heart of what defines much of Western contemporary art: rejection of media so defined, rejection of the gallery space as institution, rejection of framing and exposition as key to presentation. This work means nothing, and that means a great deal.



*The author's opinions are his own.

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