Stephen Kroninger
July 2007
Four More from the Drawer
A World of Scissors and Paper That’s Captured in Photographs
“Bee Eater,” from “Daniel Gordon: Thin Skin II,” an exhibition of large color photographs that often deal with the body and its discomforts.
Unexpected praise. Here's a review that gives me a favorable mention from Saturday's TIMES. Roberta Smith has had kind things to say about my work a few times over the years and it's always an honor to be mentioned in the same sentence as Red Grooms. By ROBERTA SMITH Published: June 30, 2007 Daniel Gordon’s large color photographs, the subject of a solo exhibition at Zach Feuer Gallery in Chelsea, have several things going for them. They operate in the gap between collage and set-up photography, which is a lively place to be at the moment. They benefit from an impressive if not entirely original way with scissors that involves creating figurative tableaus from cut paper and cut-out images that Mr. Gordon then photographs. In addition, he seems motivated by a deeply felt obsession with the human body and the discomforts of having one. Not for nothing is this show titled “Thin Skin II.” He likes to depict the body in extreme situations: a woman giving birth, for example, or a man cowering under a table in a work titled “Quake.” A certain interest in crime scenes is indicated, as in the pile of little girls, seemingly dead, in “Rock Garden” and the body twisted in the corner of a suburban house in “Headless Man.” The images in this show are a bit like ransom notes, with different parts coming from different places, and the whole barely hanging together. They are both unsettling and goofy, even when they seem relatively benign. Less violent subjects scamper from the generic to the abjectly erotic (“Rubber Plant”) to domestic weirdness, like the gangly hands and arms stretching across the red-checkered tablecloth in “Pomegranate,” a fruit that is being shared by two or more people. The undercurrent of discomfort bordering on self-loathing that runs through much of Mr. Gordon’s work is clearest in “Man in Grass,” which portrays an aroused, naked sunbather whose thighs are covered with insect bites. In an odd way, the problem with Mr. Gordon’s work lies more with context: His images and themes hew too closely to what seems to be the Feuer Gallery’s house style of faux-naďve, often appealingly grotesque, figuration. They evoke the tubular limbs, simplified faces and brusque techniques already seen at Feuer, most notably in the paintings of Dana Schutz (see Mr. Gordon’s “Bee Eater” and “Birth”), Jules de Balincourt and Christoph Ruckhäberle; the cut-paper sculpture of Ryan Johnson; and the videos of Nathalie Djurberg. There are other, also bothersome echoes from further afield, like the discombobulated collage figures of the talented graphic designer Stephen Kroninger and the cobbled-together figures of Red Grooms. But the show mostly accents the dangers when a gallery’s taste — or “program” as it is often called today — becomes so clearly defined and consistent that the art it represents starts looking a little too much alike. This makes a newcomer’s work feel predictable, though it is barely out of the gate. “Daniel Gordon: Thin Skin II” closes today at the Zach Feuer Gallery (LFL), 530 West 24th Street, Chelsea; (212) 989-7700.
Daniel Gordon’s photograph of his orchid, constructed from paper.
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