Maccarone, New York, USA
Nate Lowman may be waving or he may be drowning in his new solo show at Maccarone. The very first work to greet us condenses his uncertainty: To be titled (Red No Smoking Smiley) (2009) combines a smiley face motif with a circular no-smoking symbol – we’re ordered not to smile.
This is only the second solo exhibition by the young New York-based artist, which may seem surprising given his visibility: Lowman’s occasional outings as a curator led him to co-curate the well-received ‘Summer Group Show’ at Gagosian’s Madison Avenue space in 2007, while his outings by night still land him in the gossip press. For those familiar with Lowman’s tastes as a curator, the Maccarone exhibition is no surprise: he could be the unhappy offspring of Richard Prince and Mike Kelley – a foul-tempered, sniggering child, dirty-minded and fascinated with death. Paintings of tombstones (that look like degraded screenprints) recur throughout the show, bearing the names of unfortunates like Loser, Spanks and Virgin. Country singer Billy Ray Cyrus and his teen star daughter Miley, the latter captured rather too intimately in last year’s notorious Vanity Fair photo shoot, appear faintly in another work.
Two heavy steel crucifixes occupy the centre of one gallery, fabricated with some dark ingenuity from truck-towing mechanisms. And Lake Photo (edition) (2009) simply rotates a photograph of a lakeside landscape to reveal how the profile of the shoreline trees, combined with their reflection, form the shape of a naked woman.
Lowman is putting forth a contemporary satire on the potent male genius, a creature with a Beavis & Butt-head mind-set that sees dirt and degradation everywhere. Even art is no refuge for him: Bring Back (2006) is a spare abstraction animated by a ‘Bring Back Monica Lewinsky’ sticker, while To be titled (Sly) (2009) features an old press photo of Sylvester Stallone painting a canvas on the terrace of his Malibu home (‘I never painted a pot of flowers wilting,’ Sly affirms, ‘I never could do that’). All there is to existence, for this sad sap, is to chase skirt while he still has the energy, then slump into a shallow grave. It’s certainly nothing to smile about.
Added by severine,
I wonder if there’s a big gap between chasing skirts before slumping into a shallow grave, and chasing ironic pop cultural ephemera that *illustrates* said sad sap before slumping into a shallow grave?