Things have come to a pretty pass when painting a simple eye-fooling gray scale on a white wall can be lauded as a feat of “technical rigor,” and rendering a collection of lamp shades in white marble is described, without apparent irony, as birthing “iconic, minimalist form.” Gallery press statements are always boosterish—they’re promotional copy, after all—but even with this in mind, it’s difficult to take Sean Kelly’s line on Iran do Espírito Santo seriously.
The Brazilian sculptor’s work is neatly realized and in impeccable taste, but it feels superficial and unnecessary. Stirring contemporary mass-cultural reference into late-’60s-style objects has been one of contemporary art’s default settings for years, so to get away with it in 2012, you need a serious new tweak. “Switch” utterly lacks one.
The overriding concern of the show is architecture—a set of “folded” translucent mirrors in the main space reflects and reframes the gallery’s space—but there simply isn’t enough here to engage our interest in a way beyond the thoroughly tried and tested. Even the work’s colorlessness suggests a slavish devotion to rules long since bent and broken. This show doesn’t even feel like a parody, more like a belated and too-earnest addendum. Minimalist work at its most effective has an almost childlike directness that brings us back to physical and visual basics in surprising and illuminating ways. Here, it feels as though the artist simply hasn’t taken his ideas far enough. The work is slick and self-important, museum-ready and easy to hype, but at its heart, just boring.