Petzel’s concurrent exhibitions of recent works by Allan McCollum and Walead Beshty offer looks at two artists who share a penchant for minimalist-derived sculpture created through a process-oriented strategy. The results diverge, but the commonalities are hard to ignore given the close proximity of the shows—both of which, thankfully, have visual pleasures to offer.
McCollum presents a series of wooden reliefs attached to gray panels; these, in turn, are hung in gridded arrangements of varying dimensions. The reliefs themselves, painted in colors ranging from bright to muted, recall Jean Arp’s organically abstract figures, though they’re toothier in appearance. Mounted here in pairs the artist calls “couples,” the shapes are derived from a 2005 project in which McCollum used a predetermined equation for creating a unique cutout form for every person on the planet.
Beshty’s installation is made up of long vertical rectangles of copper displayed like paintings—copies, actually, of the desktops in the gallery offices, which the artist replaced over the summer with his metal surrogates, and which became tarnished with countless fingerprints and other traces of day-to-day activities. Nearby, boxlike metal supports for Beshty’s desks are arrayed in neat rows on the floor.
Beyond process, another similarity between these shows is a link to people, whether it’s employees or the globe’s teeming multitudes. No one would confuse McCollum or Beshty for figurative artists, yet both imbue their stylish brands of formalism with an unmistakable human presence.—Howard Halle