Roxy Paine At The Marianne Boesky Gallery

Roxy Paine is off to a strong start for his first show at Marianne Boesky Gallery. I don’t have the dirt, as to why he moved from his long standing representation with James Cohan Gallery but this new work is fresh and very impressive.

All the new work is hand carved meticulously (by him) in maple wood. Apparently, he is self trained in wood carving and spent hours upon hours for over a year preparing for this show. Paine presents new examples of his recent maple wood sculptures, which are depictions of hybrid machine-like objects. The show stopper though is a large diorama titled ‘Checkpoint’ built into a wall constructed in the main gallery. It is a painstakingly accurate replication of a typical TSA airport security check point (with No lines!).

The gallery describes the piece as transforming metal and rubber reality into a soft-hued maple wood. The actual depth of the TSA space copied here is eighty feet. Roxy Paine miraculously recreates the eighty feet with immaculate prospective into eighteen feet. The scale feels so real even though with the perspective it has been altered. There is no glass in front suggesting a moving living moment of human experience that becomes architecturally frozen in time. Because the gallery was empty when I was there, ‘Checkpoint’ felt particularly abandoned, apocalyptic and eery.

Roxy Paine, in the past has focused on creating massive pieces made out of stainless steel or poured painted polymers reminiscent of larger than life trees and globular rocks. His work always felt very ‘natural’ and frequently were meant to be placed out of doors. This show moves from the organic objects to mechanistic systems. There is no out of doors here. It’s a tight claustrophobic man made interior. As all great sculptors Roxy Paine transforms materials in unexpected ways. The juxtaposition of subject against the patina of his medium is startling. The wood carved machines presented in this show were made with human hand, while his previously biological inspired works always looked very fabricated.

The drawings done as studies hang in the gallery’s back office. They prove again that Roxy Paine is a phenomenal draftsman. As I was leaving, the noted collectors Michael and Susan Hort came into the gallery. Marianne Boesky greeted them and proudly escorted them through the show. I wonder if next year, during the armory show private collection tours we will see this massive piece in their loft.

Words: Lizanne Merrill © Artlyst 2014

Roxy Paine Denuded Lens – September 4 – October 18, 2014 – 509 West 24th Street

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