Work by Peter Kreider (fg) & Marko Lulic (bg)Reed's Cooley Gallery
with a new walnut floor and a strong two-person show featuring
Marko Lulic and Peter Kreider. PICA
Kristen Kennedy teamed up with Cooley curator Stephanie Snyder to arrange this
transcontinental pairing (Lulic is Austrian and Kreider is American). The result
is a tidy offering of salient works that stand up on their own merits, but offer
considerable interplay upon further reflection.
Lulic makes a reflexive comment?
young artist rapidly gaining international prominence for his retakes on modernist
architecture and monuments. He draws on his Serbo-Croatian heritage to dissect
and deconstruct Tito-era
Yugoslav modernism with a sincerity that oscillates
between admiration and chagrin. His work is visible from the street across Reed's
carefully tended grounds: giant hot pink steel letters spell out "Edifice
Complex." Amidst the stately bricks and clipped greenery of the coiffed
campus, the text acts as some kind of open-ended propaganda. It's part pun,
part confession, maybe part accusation as well.
Lulic install, Frey's House #1 (fg)
Once inside the Cooley Gallery, the far wall sports the same hot pink and is
emblazoned with enormous text reading "Social Housing for Billionaires."
Again, in the context of Reed and its requisite associations to trust fund money
and liberal guilt, this phrase accommodates a variety of meanings. Lulic's other
contributions require a little more probing, and perhaps the accompanying pamphlet
for viewers not already familiar with his interests.
The gallery is divided roughly in half by "Corner (black)," an L-shaped
segment referencing Lulic' remake of Albert
Frey's "house no. 1
" of 1940 (according to the pamphlet). Although
one can literally step through the empty frame, I lacked the knowledge for a
mental entry point, and it served as a clunky visual corral between the artists,
cramping the already intimate space. A nearby digital photograph, noticeably
altered, depicts Lulic at the "2008" Venice Biennale, standing in
front of the Croatian, Austrian, and Serbian pavilions, which are magically
conjoined behind him.
Lulic's The Moderns (Vienna) [bg left] & ZentralKomittee [bg right] with model buildings [fg]
Lulic presented two videos: "Zentralkomitee" and "The Moderns
(Vienna)." The first is a minute-long pan down the side of a Belgrade skyscraper,
a former communist headquarters bombed by NATO during the offensive in 1999.
Lulic, under the auspices of a newsman, muses that the building will be removed
to make way for a shopping mall. Another video selectively tours Vienna, presenting
only the modernist monstrosities and not the stately traditional architecture
for which the city is known.
In these works and two altered pedestal sculptures, Lulic stakes out distinct
territory by posing questions about the troubled legacies of modernist art and
attitudes. Lulic seems to miss the idealism and grandeur associated with the
age of clunky, overblown monuments, but his sentiment is less nostalgic than
gently critical. How can we laugh at the eyesores of previous decades when we
are replacing them with the anonymous uniform of Western-style capitalism?
Kreider's Restless Attractor (fg)
Peter Kreider's work, occupying the far side of the black corner, is more whimsical,
and disparate than that of his cohort. The centerpiece is "Restless Attractor,"
a plastic sculpture of oversized multicolored electrical plugs and wires, connected
end-to-end in an impossible circuit. The piece is both technically impressive
and thrilling in a way that makes me think of child mad scientists, making Lego
empires in their rooms all day. It's in the realm of Charles Ray and Tim Hawkinson,
without so much of the "How'd he do it?" element.
Another strong work is a table of cast and altered porcelain milk jugs, cut
to resemble abstract human skulls. The assembled crowd of staring heads rests
upon a slab of white Formica, which is in turn placed on crude wooden sawhorses.
The mismatched materials stopped me up for a moment-just long enough for the
kitschy vessels to shift from ironic to iconic and bring a chill to the work
- transforming it into a cartoonish Khmer Rouge-style war crime. Kreider's other
works in the show function as short, one-liner jokes-a fork in an outlet, a
photo of a beer-whereas the two larger sculptures read as complex visual riddles
without losing their light sense of humor.
Both artists share a fluidity with material and scale that serves their conceptual
interests. Kreider is more formally playful while Lulic's subject, the often-embarrassing
spectacle of human monument, is slyly self-deprecating. The matchmaking of two
artists occurs so often (and so often with such dismal results) in commercial
spaces, that it was refreshing to see a well-considered pairing within a smaller
non-profit space like the Cooley. This show bodes well for the future of the
Cooley: world-class exhibitions in sleepy Southeast Portland.
Through December 9th 2007
I had the privilege of having Peter Kreider attend one of my class critiques at PNCA, and he was just as fantastic at dishing out the criticism as he is at creating artwork.
What was most exciting for me about this show was the way both artists' work really had a dialogue with each other. For every sharp cube of Lulic's, there was a responding playful milk jug by Krieder. It was a rather well curated show. Maybe a little too tight spacing wise in some areas, but otherwise great.