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Chris Bradley at Shane Campbell Gallery | Art review

Bradley presents his signature funny, well-crafted installations in "Quiet Company."

Photograph: Shane Campbell Gallery
Chris Bradley, installation view of "Quiet Company," 2011.

Last September, Chris Bradley staged a performance that called attention to his butt crack. His works in “Quiet Company,” executed in 2010 and 2011, are more subtle but no less fun.

The recent SAIC M.F.A. balances humor with thoughtful composition in his playful installations. Bradley pairs unlikely elements, including a live turtle, with more common sculptural materials such as wood and steel. In Target #4, the results are surprisingly lyrical: The artist clips a single cast-bronze potato chip to the top of a thin rod, which juts out from a stone base. The latter grounds the work, elevating the ruffled chip’s aesthetic value and allowing it to act as a whimsical focal point.

The individual sculptures in an artful sequence of cast-bronze pretzel rods aren’t as captivating. Viewed together, however, the simple, framelike pieces, which are welded and mounted on the wall, form an amusing installation. 

As for that turtle, he’s the star of Cancun, which involves an aquarium system Bradley rigged up himself (and placed inside a cooler). It, too, hints at a combo of prankster instincts and serious craftsmanship. Nearby Incognito indicates the artist remains one cheeky dude: The sculpture features a can of Budweiser, half-assedly painted white and relabeled modelo especial. By arranging prosaic objects in uncommon ways, Bradley assigns them new importance and suggests new ways of relating to them.

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