Art In America

Xu Zhen

at James Cohan,
533 West 26th Street

The Shanghai-based Xu Zhen (b. 1977), an inveterate satirist, was bound to take on the sanctimony of Western oil-on-canvas painting sooner or later. This show includes one of his museum masterpiece copies, complete with glare from a tourist snapshot, as well as a selection of kitschy abstractions made with candy-bright pigments applied in gloppy swirls with the icing bags used to decorate cakes. Not only do painterliness and Ab Ex bloviation take a hit, so too does fellow countryman Zhang Huan, recently guilty of the cloying faces-in-flower-petals “Poppies” series, made with the same squeezing technique.

On a very different note, Corporate—(Erected), 2016, a multi-peaked wall hanging composed of S&M gear, seems to meld the forms of corporate and gothic towers, while materially evoking artists like Ashley Bickerton and Leonardo Drew. (Toying with the perversion of art by commerce, Xu Zhen himself in 2009 founded the “art company” MadeIn, which produces artworks factory-fashion and now offers a product line called Xu Zhen.) Simplistic notions of mentally integrating East and West through art are mocked in a 2014 sculpture that features a headless Buddha and a headless Classical figure stacked vertically, neck to neck. Maybe the video Rainbow best captures the spirit of Xu’s manic lampoons: we hear slaps and see a bare back progressively redden, but the striking hand is unseen—cleverly excised through editing. —Richard Vine

 

Pictured: Xu Zhen: Eternity-Aphrodite of Knidos, Tang Dynasty Sitting Buddha, 2014, glass fiber-reinforced concrete, marble grains, sandstone grains, mineral pigments and steel, 139¾ by 35⅞ by 35⅞ inches. Produced by MadeIn Company. Courtesy James Cohan, New York.

 

More from the Lookout

“Self-Interned, 1942: Noguchi in Poston War Relocation Center”

at the Isamu Noguchi Museum,
through Jan. 7
9-01 33rd Road, Long Island City

Submit your e-mail to receive insider information from the art world every week.