A Question of Form


Conceptual formalism receives a contemporary appraisal in "The Form Itself," a group show currently on display at New York's Priska C. Jushka Fine Art.  Curated by artist Michael Bühler-Rose, the exhibition finds nine predominantly emerging artists conducting "a self-reflective dialogue on the potential and purity" of their mediums, be they painting, photography, video or sculpture.  This broad and somewhat undercooked curatorial conceit results in an elegant but uneven show, where self-reflectivity is often manifest in a tautological affirmation of an object or discipline's constituent parts, as with Talia Chetrit's Grotjahn-esque color investigations or the Lewitt-meets-readymade sculpture Possible Form (from "100 Variations") (2008) by Roula Partheniou, made from one-hundred monochrome Rubik's Cubes.  The strongest works end up being the least discursively entrenched, mining the formal qualities and social and economic connotations of contemporary objects.  Joy Drury Cox's spare, precise graphite drawings of employment applications of chains like Starbucks and Wendy's, stripped of all textual content, expose the common structural parameters within which applicants render their professional self-portraits.  Another standout is Adrian Crabbs' Shipping Pallet 2 (2008), one in a larger series of paintings the artist made by pressing one side of a paint-covered pallet onto linen.  Given the pallet's paradoxical role in contemporary trade -- a sub-structure so ubiquitous as to be practically invisible to consumers -- Crabbs' concrete utilization of the object to generate its own trace-like representation is appropriate and evocative. - Tyler Coburn

Image: Roula Partheniou, "Possible Form" (from "100 Variations"), 2008