Robert Sandler “Symphony for a Good Boy” at Kai Matsumiya, New York

By Last Updated: July 25, 2023Views: 327

In “Symphony for a Good Boy,” Robert Sandler develops his ludic interrogations of the area that wobbles between floor and essence. These are works that tickle and poke, caress and strangle, wheedle and deny. Their excruciating eroticism, nonetheless, is extra existential than hedonistic. Pulsating with pleasure however rightly suspicious of its constitutive poles of sensuality and energy, they place all aesthetic endpoints because the butt of a questioning joke. Satisfaction, for them, is merely the start.

Sandler’s information to this backyard of tortured delights is a clown, or quite the clown: white masks, purple nostril, ridiculous, unhappy, and scary. In his earlier present, “Ha! Ah!” (2021), that quasi-human temper enhancer dominated the imagery. There he was the artist-as-joker, taking part in dumb methods in a photographic body or cage, providing his dignity on your delight, his failure on your success. Two years later, this clown-flower has fructified. Its pollen now inseminates the creative course of, contaminating the area, the medium, the shape, and producing bastard works that intermix low comedy and excessive artwork: works of difficult bluntness, works of conceptual buffoonery, works of deep clowning.

“Symphony for a Good Boy” revels within the clown’s gayness and cruelty. Eleven untitled feather works construction and oversee the area like an orchestra, or a Greek refrain. These face-sized sq. canvases are smothered with an impenetrable monochrome veneer that evokes the right packaging of a design product, or maybe the latexed thrills of dominated devotion. The ostrich feathers complement the gagged floor with flourish and levity, however additionally they tickle and torture. Vacillating in mechanical spurts between operate and thingness, between that means and sweetness, they pause and pose solely to hitch the ordered cacophony anew.

Mechanical and abrupt actions of plucked-out feathers evoke a picture that’s extra bitter than candy. Crucially, although, additionally it is very humorous. These cyborgs’ failed try at grace, directly touching and pathetic, goes to the center of Sandler’s challenge, pointing on the depths of his search. Like Henri Bergson for whom the comedic appeared as “one thing mechanical encrusted on the dwelling,” Sandler, too, sees laughter as an moral refusal of certitude and its ossifications—a refusal, that’s, of the numerous faces of loss of life. Like a stuck-out tongue or a well-timed fart, the feather works perpetually puncture the balloon they themselves inflate, impeding any finality, hindering all success.

If, of their self-awareness and anthropomorphized flamboyance, the untitled feather works evoke a Michael-Friedian theatrophobia (and the string of normative phobias that accompanies it), Fortunate (2023) presents respite. The simple referentiality of the sculpture, its static objecthood, its in-progress high quality, its sub-human topic: all whisper docility, if not submission. The neutered canine presents himself to the viewer fully.

. . . and but, it poops. Which is to say, it really works, it produces, it exchanges, it strikes. The swish state of aesthetic absorption is as soon as once more punctured by the clown’s lingering, merciless smile, by the excrement which merely can’t be contained. Fortunate—whose title may seek advice from Beckett’s collared character in Ready for Godot (1959)—has to go. Proper now. However after all, he can’t go: “Nothing to be carried out!” As in his video work Exodus (2021), which exhibits a clown cajoling his unresponsive penis, Sandler, like Beckett, presents no satisfaction, solely ready. Hanging between anus and Earth, between operate and thingness, the dear ur-object is halted in movement. Like all of us, like all of this, it’s simply one other work-in-failure.

Amir Farjoun

at Kai Matsumiya, New York
till August 5, 2023

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