Art In America

“Formal Complaint”

at the Knockdown Center,
52-19 Flushing Ave., Queens

The works of the five artists included in “Formal Complaint” render simple forms—lines, circles, planes—in rugged construction materials. The slender steel rods of Christopher Hanrahan’s “Catalogue” series dangle mid-air, connected at acute angles by magnets. In Aria Dean’s untitled 2016 sculpture, a double-jointed length of PVC pipe leans against the wall, anchored by a stocking with a handful of metal hooks in its foot. Mario Navarro’s sculptures are salvaged parts of wrecked buildings positioned at angles so that the concrete seems to have accrued to the fragmented, rusty metal frames like outsized scabs on a wound. These works are in dialogue with post-Minimalism, the infection of geometric formalism with abject materiality. But the sculptures in “Formal Complaint” suggest identification not only with a vulnerable body but also with a resourceful mind, responding to a precarious existence through combinations of available materials, spaces, and forms. The most anthropomorphic work here is Megan Pahmier’s Tears (2017), where museum glue appears to leak from the wall, hardened in twin streaks below a pair of holes lined with brass washers. It’s both silly and sad, just as the transparent archival putty it’s made with is both resilient and removable. —Brian Droitcour


Pictured: Aria Dean: Untitled, 2016, burnt PVC pipes, wax, metal loops, nylon stocking, and chain, dimensions variable. Courtesy the Knockdown Center, New York.

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