Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Jorge Pardo @ Friedrich Petzel

Jorge Pardo, the whimsical & prolific artist/designer, has a solo exhibition of objects & paintings now through April 21st at Friedrich Petzel Gallery in Chelsea.
Pardo is popular for his multidisciplinary installations which blur the distinction between 'design' and 'fine art', although I feel that's more because he chooses to show his work in galleries and because his 'design' work--furniture, lighting, interiors--seems vaguely more conceptual and part of a process of working in which the artifact or fabrication is more an outcome rather than a goal. As such, the works in this exhibition create the ambiance of a not-completely-finished boutique hotel lobby.
The main feature of the show are a couple dozen milled-PVC chandelier pendant lamps hanging at various lengths from the ceiling. While variants of this design can be seen in multiple trendy boutiques right now, closer investigation reveals a form less akin to traditional ornament and something a bit edgier and aquatically primal--think Ernst Haeckel vs. Tord Boontje.
The paintings are actually silkscreen & applique on unprimed linen, and draped with fabric garlands, bringing to mind the large-scale collages of Beatriz Milhazes. The gay floral patterns are diffused somewhat by the dourness of the surface material.
Rounding out the show are a group of wine-storage credenzas with custom hinge fixtures and a series of bizarre clocks made from contoured layers of corrugated cardboard and wood. Pardo's work here as elsewhere playfully makes a statement about the sheer aesthetic experience of architecture, objects and spaces. While the objects are wonderful and exuberant in their own right, however, this presentation seems strangely unalive.

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