Allan Wexler: Overlook, Ronald Feldman Gallery, New York, NY


Installation view

September 10 – October 24, 2009

What remains inherent throughout his [Wexler’s] work is the sense of experimentation – an investigation that operates as an extension of our ability to be at home in the world, to remake our reality, and to question our existence through what we make.” –Aaron Betsky from Custom Built: A Twenty-year Survey of Work by Allan Wexler

The Ronald Feldman Gallery will exhibit works from the last five years by Allan Wexler whose thirty-year career resists easy classification. One of a group of artists who began to question the perceived divide between disciplines in the late 1960’s, Wexler draws from the fields of the visual arts, architecture, and design to examine art’s place and purpose. He explores the idea of function, posing the question: Is it art when it looks like a chair?

In his body of work, Wexler creates hand-crafted drawings, multimedia objects and images, and installations that alter perceptions of domestic activities. Eating, sitting, and socializing become artful investigations. Influenced by architecture and methods of scientific research, the works reveal human domestic needs and the role that objects play in our interaction with one another.

The exhibition features a series based on transformations of the ordinary chair. As metaphors for human interaction, Love Seat, Community, and Co-Exist activate ritual and ceremony. The diptych, Burnt Chair/Charcoal Drawing, forces a choice between creativity (the drawing) and destruction (the chair). Function and art become one with Body Language – as the meal progresses, the seated diner’s movements create drawings. A series of drawings, 45 Studies for Chair Transformations, is an example of Wexler’s use of small-scale works as tools for discovering and exploring ideas and themes which appear in later projects.

Also on view is Studies for Small Buildings and Landscapes, a series of intricate constructions that relate to invention and perception. On the Art of Building in Ten Books, inspired by classical texts and initiated during Wexler’s 2005 fellowship at the American Academy in Rome, uses images to reduce the complexity of the built world into essential elements that are abstract and iconic.

The exhibition will also provide information about Wexler’s most recent public project, Overlook, made in collaboration with Ellen Wexler, and commissioned by Metropolitan Transportation Authority Arts for Transit for the Long Island Rail Road, which opens this fall in the new Atlantic Terminal at Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues. The monumental artwork evokes the rocky overlooks found in national parks that encourage travelers to pause and view the scene below.

Represented by the Ronald Feldman Gallery since 1988, Allan Wexler teaches at Parsons The New School for Design. Wexler’s portable structure, Gardening Sukkah (2000), will be on view at The Jewish Museum’s group exhibition, Reinventing Ritual: Contemporary Art and Design for Jewish Life, September 13 – February 7, 2010. A public project by Allan and Ellen Wexler, Two Too Large Tables, is permanently installed at the Hudson River Park at 29th Street.