Ideally, less could indicate more.
Gagosian is pleased to present Nighthorses, new work by Adam McEwen.
As McEwen’s title suggests, anxiety resides even in the most common images and objects. His art draws attention to the vestigial dramas of daily life; the forgotten is memorialized, the subliminal laid bare. Narrative flow is tempting to seek yet impossible to find.
The centerpiece of Nighthorses is a series of narrow, perfectly rectangular frames mounted on the wall. Rendered individually in graphite, brass, steel, and phosphorescent resin, they recall the serial geometries of Minimalism—only that the latchkey positioned inside the base of each frame suggests the back end of a truck, pared down to a schema. In another series, images of rumpled beds are printed onto sheets of vividly colored cellulose sponge and thus transformed into scaleless, undulating landscapes. Paired with life-size graphite objects fixed to the surface—an oar, a ladder, a hand dryer, and a lavatory cistern—they generate a sense of psychological dissonance. Moving on from Andy Warhol’s notorious Disaster series, McEwen’s image of the aftermath of a car crash, printed on yellow cellulose sponge and supporting two smooth graphite drum cymbals, offers a perfect visual tautology.
Through McEwen’s deft game of aesthetic surrogacy, ordinary things are charged with a sense of unspecified malaise. The unique physical characteristics of industrial graphite—light-absorbing, dense, and self-lubricating—are unsettlingly nonnegotiable. A graphite pay phone without a hand receiver sits in a permanent capture of vandalized obsolescence; a graphite Hula-Hoop hangs heavy and inert on a nail; and a plywood sheet cast in phosphorescent urethane is pierced by the mysterious geometries of a graphite funnel, balanced on top of a graphite sphere.