THE NEW YORK TIMES
4 East Second Street, East Village
After seven years Rivington Arms, a pioneer in the Lower East Side/East Village gallery scene, is closing its doors. Its final show introduces the work of Uri Aran, which has a future of its own.
Like many members of his generation, Mr. Aran turns arbitrariness into a fine art. He does so without sticking to any one approach or medium, although there’s a tropical quality, alternately fake and real, implicit in the coconuts, azure oceans and exotic fish that figure in some works.
A found sculpture involves a cheap old desk tipped on its side; the newly drilled holes in its bottom are intermittently plugged with chocolate chip cookies. A mechanized plastic scroll of tropical fish customary to coffee shops (except it lacks any pretense of a frame) is positioned so that it turns the tipped desk into an ocean-bound cave. The title of the piece is “Letter, policeman, ambulance, firetruck, crosswalk, stop sign, the butcher, the baker, schoolteacher,” which implies an elaborate script, or a random enumeration of street life.
But arbitrariness can also involve rigorous fabrication, as Robert Gober has proved. In “Purpose,” a metal pedestal has been outfitted with a burnerlike circle of oil-lamp wicks; they could surround the little box of fish food at its center with a ring of fire, except that only two or three are lighted at once. A drawing, a photograph and three related monoprints make you consider Mr. Aran’s admiration for William Wegman, Bruce Nauman and Jasper Johns. In a short video in the back room, what begins as a random recitation escalates into a slightly creepy manipulation; it may send you back to the other works here with renewed curiosity. ROBERTA SMITH
ART IN REVIEW
ART IN REVIEW; 'I Kept All Your Letters'
By HOLLAND COTTER
Published: May 24, 2002
192 Rivington Street
Lower East Side
Through June 6
Dealers routinely scour art school graduate programs for new talent. But Melissa Bent and Mirabelle Marden, cofounders of Rivington Arms, a store-front gallery, have turned an eye on an even fresher source. All four of the artists making professional debuts in this show have recent B.F.A.'s; in fact, two were still undergraduates when the show opened.
Most of the work is figurative painting and drawing, with images pulled through various conceptual filters. Carl Weiner's expressionistic ''Manila Drawings'' were inspired by audio tapes of his psychotherapy sessions. Jonah Koppel's graphite-on-felt heads are based on photographs of semifamous scientists and politicians, though in each case the features have been distorted and defaced, depriving the sitters of their original photographic composure.
Mathew Cerletty, at 22 the youngest, bases his realist pictures on his own photographs of posed models: a chic-looking young doctor in one case, the artist's grandmother holding ice cream sticks in another. For the large drawing ''Wishing I Had a Twin Sister,'' he lifted an image of a pensive bare-breasted young woman in a flounce skirt from a magazine and added his own face. He's very good.
William Pym contributes two big text paintings of pop song lyrics. They're expertly done, though of little more interest than similar work by Richard Prince at Barbara Gladstone this month. At the same time Mr. Pym breaks loose from the show's prevailing academic polish in a series of seven-inch vinyl records of personal conversations and apartment sounds. Haphazard and fragmentary, the recordings were made as part of his final undergraduate project at Harvard, and they strike the one note of un-uptight lunacy in this promising, if maybe slightly old-before-its-time, lineup. HOLLAND COTTER
Correction: May 29, 2002, Wednesday A brief art review in Weekend on Friday about ''I Kept All Your Letters,'' a group show at Rivington Arms on the Lower East Side in Manhattan, misstated the street address and the given name of an artist. The gallery is at 102 Rivington Street, not 192. The artist is Clay Weiner, not Carl.
NEW YORK MAGAZINE