A word, first, about the press release. I have championed anti-formalism for a long time, and lost that battle–it persists, but, really, only to a formalist would Bjarne Melgaard’s art look like “a last-chance idea of beauty”, part of a “depressing downward spiral”, “anti-aesthetic”, making “perversion of the notion of the artist”, and only to an idealist defensive Christian would working in the natural world be an irrelevance, invisible and grotesque. Nor do I think the Pink Panther can possibly represent a “beserking of aesthetic cancellation”—he’s a good looking guy! Even the “subversive” critical language we use reflects our ideological premises, Melgaard, I do not believe, is expending all this energy simply to confront formalism. (Oh, hell, why do I bother, the art world speaks formspeak, and always will).
My interest in Bjarne Melgaard is targeted, and cuts a narrow path through the whole gamut of his work. Some work he does for cultures or subcultures that do not interest me, and then there are aspects of his work that interest. I came to Melgaard late, and with surprise. I saw a canvas he made in tribute to Mary Boone at last Spring’s Gramercy Art Fair. The way he took a full, apparently real dress, perhaps a suit Boone might have worn in early 80s iconic pictures, and stuck it on canvas, reminded me of similar work I had written about, done by a much less well known artist, in the 1980s, who did “portraits” of people by asking them for a distinctive article of clothing, and then mounting it in a kind of lifesize collage on canvas (odd, Melgaard had shown this kind of painting before, never caught my eye until he hung something on it). This too seemed like a very direct example, in contemporary art, of a votive work of art.
That is, the canvas was an honorific, it offered thanks to, it honored Mary Boone, and did so (even it with required mockery) by assembling some of her signature looks, and making a shrine of them. It is the kind of thing that might be left in a chapel devoted to the cult of Mary, if it ever comes to that. There are some of these canvases in the current show at Gavin Brown. Their ground consists of a kind of faux painting, sometimes with borrowed imagery, all bright and colorful. And then the suit it attached, or a dress. And then, in these pieces, there is a mid level of some support, which holds a rack of handbags. This strikes me as an extension of the votive idea. It is suggested that a place in the canvas, because of the suit being there, has become more valued than other places. And then others come by, or Melgaard makes another pass of the work, and wants to add to his honor, and stamps on another bag, and another, and so the votives pile up, like they would at any shrine.
In ancient times, a votive took the form of a small statue left at a site, to thank the god and continue praying to him, after one has gone. In modern Catholicism, a lit candle plays that role. At sites of healing, votives may take the form of silver body parts, in a practice very deep in history, to thank the god for healing this or that ailment, or asking for continued coverage, after one has gone. Since votives sometimes did not work, intercessionary helpers of the gods were invented so you could ask them too for help. What this suit on a painting seems to ask is continued protection from the gods of the art world, and then the additional offerings, more bags, are added up, to continue to ask for protection. This is, in my reading, votive art: and this sort of agency in contemporary art is very rare. For this, Melgaard is a kind of case study for me.
The fact that these votives were left in the ‘inner sanctum’ of a triple space exhibition reinforces this idea. A votive suggests humility and deference. An unsure, somewhat humble, worried, nervous person needs to leave votives: they need the reinforcement too (whenever Paulie, in The Sopranos, for example, began to talk up his superstitious fears, Tony would shoot back, “Stop talking like an old woman”—there it is). I suppose this is the quality of Melgaard’s work that is so appealing (apart from the woof side to this warp, his bad boy sexual exhibitionism): his fragility, his unsureness in himself. It feels quite human.
But, then, why arrange his exhibition as it is? This is the challenge, to understand the floorplan, and then its contents. As you enter the Gavin Brown space, you move left from the administrative offices, into the first gallery. In the context of the exhibition, it acts like a foyer. In the middle of this foyer is a large statue of the Pink Panther, the cartoon character created by Fritz Freleng and made famous as the mascot of the bumbling pink panther seeker (the pink panther is actually a missing diamond), Inspector Clouseau, played classically by Peter Sellers. As a statue type, this one is monumental. It is centralized, people take pictures around it (so did I). It stands in the middle of a room, the walls of which are covered in two types of art: a painted mural of black shark fins, and two prints of film stills with captions, setting, perhaps, themes for what’s to come.
This sort of statue is too large to be a cult statue. It cannot serve as a study, or a beautiful work of art per se. It gave off, for me, a Paul McCarthy Tomato Head vibe,
and, then, too, a Damien Hirst vibe.
And, even more precisely, likely because of its loopy legs, a Jonathan Borofsky vibe,
there is a name I have not thought of in a while (there was a time when you could not go to any city anywhere without running into one). In all these cases, however, it was the custom of the artist to place what might be called a thesis statue out front, to play as it were an overture of themes to come. They were not statues, per se, but models of themes to come: same thing here. But at the gateway to the proceedings, which would meander in, it also marks a boundary, it guards the borderline, it wards off intrusion from the unknowing and the profane. Like a secretary who lets no one see him, unless, it has about it too a certain “keep it light, keep it gay….love it!” Carmen Gia vibe (love Roger Bart, but I’m looking at Mercury in the background)
In this capacity, the Pink Panther is a protector of the private space of the
artist from the slings and arrows of the world, as represented by the black shark
fins on the wall. He is sploshed with paint to only remind us that paint is the
blood of the art world body and will be messed with and shed. Both of the
seemingly minimal and banal film stills put off expectations of bad boyness,
and apologize in advance for any issues that might arise. Melgaard, like I
said, has his bad boy moments, but not here. He is a monster only sometimes
And then we enter the first gallery. The fact that couches are set in a circle around a table covered in books, and papers, one of which is the press release for the exhibition (very nice to read the press release in the middle of the exhibition), and that there are empty containers of drinks around, suggests that the installation seeks to recreate a studio situation. We are on a fictional studio visit, the artist, by this mess, makes a physical representation of the apology for the mess which would come at this point in entrée into the studio. This is a welcoming, homey experience: though one could not sit down and rest or lounge among the magazines (which is where one might learn some things about the denizen of the den: I am so rude now to snap photos of books and such during visits, might even steal a Milano).
The place, too, is a mess. Several pink panthers stand around the perimeter of the couch circles, and the wider spaces opening up beyond it. All are made by repeated cast off of clothing onto clothes horses, that is, hatstands, or coatracks, but in the form of the pink panther. Or, more accurately, smaller Pink Panther statues, made of stuffed animal fur, which may have at one point stood independently as art or collectible, but over time, in the imaginary scenario of the life of this fictive studio, came to have clothes tossed over them, and then to be covered in clothes, and then too covered in other objects, with other makeshift devices made to keep them up. As such, these statues serve a servant or butler role: they are helpers, intermediaries, they also patrol the boundaries of the space, but to serve it. The fact that more of them over time are needed signifies greater need, a slipping away of self-control. As works of art, they are mascots, but then set upon, taken advantage of, run down on, overdone with, abused, buried, succumbing to the fashion mania of the host.
They remind me again of Blackamoor torchieres, still collectible
(This, Moor with Emerald Cluster, by Balthasar Permoser, 17th century, Dresden’s Green Vault)
Off behind the main couch one of the helper statues has, in a moment of esprit, the kind of whimsical idea that pops up in the mind of someone making a nest of personal space like this (I have seen many examples of such private space oddities over the years, the thing people put in their rec rooms!), one stuffed animal is propped up on top of a oversized Pepto Bismal bottle, laid on its side. Maybe it was a property used in an advertisement, or a set display in a store (again, imagining the artistic life here, but I always covet theatre lobby advertising standees), maybe it was made by him, for some purpose. Perhaps someone in conversation joked that they can’t stand the Pink Panther because it reminds them of that awful tasting medicine (I no longer use it). Maybe a joke was made as to the fact that pink panther in slang means a gay cougar, an older man going after younger (that, or a straight man who feigns gayness to pull in women: this from Urban Dictionary), and in silly double talk this idea emerged. It has that spontaneous, improvised quality (it is this quality that I valued in a small show I did in 1993 called Tabloid (and Melgaard is a tabloid not a pop artist), and especially liked the spontaneous ideas of the artist Dan Asher, with whom I did an impromptu studio visit in the stairwell of a Soho building as he pulled elements of his artwork for my exhibition out of shopping bag and showed me what he wanted to do, holding it up just so, he wanted to comment on the Anita Hill trial by having a fire hose drop on the floor out of a bright Fire House cover, with other attachments, and I said, great, do it! this, two days before the show opened, best little five minute studio visit I ever had!). Melgaard seems to create with that same borderline silly but bold spontaneous glee, and that is always an appealing quality in contemporary art (even if in this case both the mascot and the medicine are a bit dated). The fact that a video is lodged in the bottle, making it into a kind of wishing well of viewing, forcing visitors to sit on the gallery floor and watch, is nice too, it is inviting (though I did not watch long enough to view the video).
I especially liked, and noted on my FB page, that a little girl sat down to watch the video, and on the floor. Sitting on the floor: it is not someone one gets to do too often in a gallery. It was nice, relaxing, it reinforced the fact that this was a fictional representation of an artist’s studio (and don’t get me started on the lamps).
And, more than that, a nest. A nest is a distinct type of domestic space, often created by artists. Neat freaks, and citizens of the world of 90 degrees, will not create nests. But some people need to have at less than arm’s length a circle of touchable objects, tokens, souvenirs, collectibles with private meaning, favorite stoop sale buys, little objects picked up in daily life, whimsies, and on and on (clearly, I am a nest maker, always have been), and in Melgaard I recognize a real nest maker. The notion here is proxemics: how comfortable are you in the world? And do you create your cordon of perfection in geometric finery, or in mess and figurative imagery? Do you sweep the floors to keep clear watch of the floorboards at all points, having to know that they are unencumbered, or do you encircle yourself with little objects and fussy presences, to block all that out? We all create comfort, but in different ways. It would be too categorical by far to claim that Melgaard’s approach is automatically associated with age, gayness, or even gender: the distinction cuts across all categories. But this is where we are: in a nest.
A special aspect of a nest is that the confabulation of metaphors that lattice over it, making it real, are situated at an altitude that is introverted away from the big bad world of business and modern life: one descends in a nest to schematic and even motif level understanding of the world, that is an allegorical or symbolic state of being. More, most nests replace rational thought with magical thinking, as the rationalists call it, but straight up practical magic, if we are talking about world culture. In a nest, simple everyday objects become enchanted once again: they become charms, good luck tokens, apotropaic devices, palladia of one’s life (I went so deep into a SAHD nest with my little ones that I began to half believe stories I told them to enchant their days, to the extent that I might have believed that some bad things happened in the household because, one year, horrors, the Christmas tree toppled from its stand, bad luck).This condition is represented in story by cursed places, which enchant objects. Beauty and the Beast applies
Or, better, the Cocteau original
The main problem with nesting elements in a work of art is that the meaning attached to any act of insertion, addition to the ensemble, etc. is so micro as to be invisible and impossible to read by others. In the work of Michelangelo, which scholars have found to be filled with secret mutterings under his breath, the word devised is sfogo, letting off steams, and scholarship has done much to ferret out these micro meanings (in his Last Judgment he’s sending all his political enemies to hell; Turner’s paintings have also been treated thus), but contemporary artists, careless of posterity, protective of trade secrets, are so little inclined to reveal the secretest meanings of their micro practices, even though I am 100% certain that these little whisperings permeate all their work. So, here, you are faced with perusal with no meaning. It creates a sense of chaos, when, once, there was order and meaning
In some vignettes, choice of doll may help. This (below) appears to be a Planet of the Apes figure, in a uniform of a Che Guevara cast, he holds weapons, he presides as a terrorist or revolutionary, he seems to imprison some others, so, there is a hint, but only that (the key thing is that in a nest the artist is creating meaning in each vignette, day by day, whether we see it or not)
The word DOPE comes up a lot in these dollhouse vignettes. In this one, DOPE is chained to a tiny black crucifix. Could it be possible that Melgaard in this far corner of his privatest nesting makes a small memorial to a friend who died of an overdose? Meublomancy, or moving about pieces of furniture to make a statement of mood, or honor a memory, is something I have seen human beings do: I would not put it past him (I like that there are rocks in the room, that’s fun).
And then there is the part of the nest where hobbying is done, odd behavior, usually involving some degrading craftwork, in which one gets carried away, and things go overboard. And that would be the doll houses. And then too what looks like an addition to the dollhouses, a little forest of trees made next door. In the dollhouse, are all sorts of curious little tableaux, room after room, moving wildly from silly to serious, from gentle to disrespectful, with surprising less obscenity than I might have hoped for. It’s fun. Since during SAHD days I got to making Halloween decorations with little stuffed Draculas and such, these I like, though Melgaard bloodies them for other reasons,
At the same time, it would be a mistake to reduce all current manifestation of lore to Pop art, I have no doubt, from a quick perusal of this strange forest, that Melgaard believes in witchcraft, and has put up many a voodoo doll to ward them off (though that tiny picture on a table makes me think it’s him, and this might be mommy)
One imagines, again in the fictive space of the exhibition as studio, that a great deal of time was idled away on this ritual behavior. This is the kind of worry work done to pass the time, to signal devotion, to subject oneself to a greater god or an obsession. It is the kind of little thing people get caught up in all the time. One would make a serious mistake to, again, categorize this behavior as ‘gay’ or as ‘psycho,’ or as ‘older mannish,’ as again I have seen examples of this kind of obsessive-compulsive ritualized behavior in all walks of life (in popular culture, however, it is clearly classified as psycho, a subject I have written extensively on Melgaard does risk self-stereotyping himself). It’s just that, very often Melgaard does some quite fun things with it, he makes of a ritualized non-art behavior, a semblance of art. (In truth the level on which most tableaux are imagined is still adult, Melgaard does not venture into the deeper turf that kids might, making tents and forts with the furniture, hiding in secret worlds).
And one of the special aspects of a nest is that eventually it succumbs to entropy, and to overddoneness. A space that starts out relatively spare will end up getting cluttered: a collection that begins in discrimination will end in overindulgent excess. Always happens. Worse, as, in real life, such nests are collected over the course of a long period of time, if, for example, one lives in one place for more than a decade, the present mind, preoccupied with the necessary little excitements of the current collectings, will forget, lose track of, lose control over and lose sight of past cultivations of things and collectibles, nesters are not good bureaucrats, living entirely in a guarded present, and the nest will begin to tumor with what I call “ghettos,” piles of junk and bags of stored items and heaps of this or that that just falls off the map, and becomes random clutter (however much I sought over the years to rid my space of ghettos, I never could quite entirely do so). There does come a time when careful arrangements, with meaning, degenerate, by the pressure of overdoneness, into garbage, and you cannot tell anymore if this is meaningful or meaningless, and Melgaard pushed it there too
The evidence of overdoneness in an artist’s studio would be past works of art, now in or on the way to storage, and I see evidence of these here; and then pockets of collecting, or hobbying with collectibles, that then gets out of control and becomes obsessive. Melgaard has tried to create both these kinds of works, set, imaginarily, in different points in time, relative to the central lounging, today, in the couch areas. By being draped, he states that the stuffed pink panther ‘statues,’ playing the role here of jejune figurative decorative arts such as “Blackamoor” torch bearers or art deco statuary, above, have been there some time (in real life, they have not been, they were created as a part of an installation installed in a short period of time, but they are ‘staged’ to look like they have been there a longer time than the couches). And they even hold books to comment on their plight, heard of, haven’t read this one, probably should
And then the ‘art’ on the walls of this studio, some of it may be ‘new’ art, and some of it may be ‘bad old art.’ I suspect that the ‘new’ art are the intriguing curtains. There are a few curtains, all of them activated by fans. Veiling was often used in the ancient world to keep the cult communication between art object and god just between cult and god: it was secret communication, not privy to all. Art as veiling, art as a curtain, suggests a similarly evasive cultic purpose (curtains themselves of course mean something, in movies, hiding behinds, or shower curtains; Mike Kelley made some use of curtains in Day is Done (2005)). This is art that screams, I don’t want to show that to you now: it says, in its very nature, I’m not ready to show this to you yet. It’s wonderful, how often I have heard that in a studio visit: and Melgaard has made of it, in physical residue of curtaining, blown by a breeze, a record of that evasion. I really liked these curtains, and will study them again (see background of above shot of Pink Panther on Pepto bottle).
And then there are a host of strangely framed, oddly surfaced, ‘portraits’ of the pink panther. The strange frames derive in recent art from Ashley Bickerton’s voodoo paintings, and what it states is that the portraits are in fact kind of contemporary classic portraits, icons, or cult figures, with a kind of thematic frame specific to the image.
The fact that these works are hung salon style emphasizes that they look over a ‘public’ space and also that they have found a place in accommodation of changes coming in after them, they have been skied. The rocksalt surface has a cheap aura that makes them embarrassingly gaudy, in bad taste, but in neo expressionistic style, seems to provide a ground upon which different formulations of the appearance of the Pink Panther could be derived—which gives the drawing authority. This kind of ‘bad painting’ I have looked at for years (in the current Mike Kelley show I see that he made one-off paintings of this sort as properties for his installations and performances, so this background subordinated role for painting as part of the mix may derive ultimately from Kelley). In the temporal logic of this exhibition as studio, however, these sad things, almost in the manner of what in the 1990s was called abject art, are the kind of old work apologized for, that artists will say to you, if you spy it on the walls, off to the side, and ask, what’s this?, will say, oh I don’t do that anymore, I was experimenting, and so you are apologized away from them (and there is yet another kind of candicolored daub that seems even less exalted, but fun). If this is so, I have to hand it to Melgaard again: he has found another relational wrinkle to give an extra little twist to performative ritualized post-painting, and it is so true to a situation in the arts today that I again love it.
Overall, what the fictive studio suggests is an artist who has become trapped and sunk deep down in his nest. His present life is being consumed by the entropy of his past life: the clothes and mess pile up, all the old art is hanging around, choking him, making him sick (thus the pepto?), his little hobbies have gotten totally out of control, and maybe now he is taking out his impatience at its obsession on it, turning against his own former passion. He’s, in short, a mess, but he still has hope: the nest needs a cleaning out, and an airing out, a purge (and maybe this exhibit is it). For all of this, Melgaard creates a very warm, friendly, true to life atmosphere, materializing the various relations in time and space that surround the consumer-in-present of the living person.
In the broader scheme of the triple space as a kind of shrine, however, this middle gallery, is the treasure chamber, filled with offerings, with tributes, with repeated ‘stabs’ at making art that lives up to his feelings for whatever is behind the last door, in the inner sanctum.
I went through this exhibit with my daughter: she is now 17, we had fun picking through the motifs and ideas of the dollhouse and its forest, I enjoyed the more arty side of things. But we went back and forth. When I stepped with her into the inner sanctum, I said, maybe I will view this alone. It is not that I think she does not know what a penis is. That is not possible after, what, third grade, in public school? But just not the sort of thing a father wants to tour with a daughter. Three large banners of gay porn stars brandishing their big members festoon the gallery (banners again, a Kelley thing, and curtained): turns out they are all stars who committed suicide, so that is a downer. And then the votives with fashion, and, indeed, when I came back out, I said to my daughter, forgetting the penises, “you might want to see the fashion work in the other room.” These works are situated closest to the inner sanctum, because he views them as being as close as he might get to his ideals. They are votives, but with an extra wish to be coverings placed on the icon or cult figure itself. They are works of art that want to be more than works of art: they are intensely idealistic, they, these canvases, are the ark of the convenant of Melgaard’s pact with himself to be his best in art through emulation of goddesses he adores. As works of art, they have a much denser, more intense feeling, than the Pink Panther images: and it is of interest that the Panther vanishes as you enter in: meaning that he was in fact a mascot of the cult, a guardian figure, a servant, a symbol for self, but not the object of the devotion—only an intercessionary art form, assisting Melgaard in maintaining the mood and drive required to get to one’s ideal.
How dense?: consider one large canvas, supporting an Eckhaus Latta pantsuit, hung on a hanger as an effigy on its face. The painting has an underlayer of abstraction, but, then, over that, a lattice of black figurative paint. The fact that in this layering figuration overrules abstraction makes Melgaard an expressionist, as seeing figures is a register of a higher level of fear. The black lattice of cartooning also hosts opportunities for seeing other faces: these either remain embedded in the mesh, or pop out, in the form of small auxilliary outlier canvases, attached to the whole. The lattice’s pervasiveness also signals persistence and heaviness, they have been with him a long time. In this case, there is one such physiognomy off to the lower left of the main canvas, to reinforce its power, and, more ominous, as a form of embodiment, suggesting that the pantsuit may not be enough to bring its wearer back, placed as the square head on the figure, re-embodying its wearer a second time, but this time as a rather unforgiving looking monster. The canvas is also intensified by collage elements, pictures, duct taped to the canvas, and then written passages, perhaps manifestos, likely mad letters, never sent, black taped to the canvas, each kind of tape intensifying the fixity of the conjuring, to make it more likely to happen. (Here, too, in a very stressful time, I went through a ‘duct tape’ phase, even duct taped over my wallet, so—I know).
I have written before of how contemporary painting is only comprehensible in the context of a broader field of imagery, derived from popular culture. The Mad Scrapbook is one of the most enduring symbols of a psycho, or at least of an artist under emotional duress: please, understand, do not dismiss these extraneous influences, as here, in this painting, is a classic example of a mad scrapbook, with all of its secret magical activities of reinforcement and intensification, right here in a canvas of contemporary painting. This is modern art, but ancient cult: and I classify this as a votive array, designed to keep whoever the lost subject of it is alive and living in the present with one, forever more. As a work of art, this is not that different from the mad scrapbook translated to wall mural I discerned in the lousy Japanese movie Sadako (see earlier note in my blog, August 2013)
The same elements are included in another canvas, though perhaps the black suit kept as a votive here enticed Melgaard to be freer with the black lattice of figuration, suffice with one statement, attached with black tape, but then there are a few added auxiliary paintings, of apotropaic, animating, embodying purpose.
Undoubtedly the main event, in terms of quality of art, in the inner sanctum, is a double canvas of a distinctly more cheerful cast, with a rich pattern of physiognomic figuration, derived from the auxiliary paintings (these seem executed by a simple method of suggestion with outline framing splotches of paint pressed down on until they either elicit a physiognomy, or remain abstract (the same borderline Carroll Dunham explores in his art). But here again, the suit is hung directly on the canvas, it is an effigy: given a head by auxiliary painting, it is further embodied, and made real to the observer. This canvas reveals its density by the fact that it comes with a few additional auxiliary faces, patrolling its perimeter. Also, its votive leavings are much denser and more intense: a series of bags, and photos, presumably of loves, pinups, whatever, of gay male nudes, sometimes scribbled on, and a dense interleaving of imagery throughout, a few extra pieces of clothing stuck in now and then, depending on how the emotions go. Again, in my reading, all of these painterly devices are magical applications designed, in the manner of ancient shrine cult, to bring the subject into presence, to embody him/her, if they don’t work, then they are intensified, then repeated, building up, made more dense, so that the maker of the shrine can be convinced of his power or possession of the lost object—and always with the sharks circling around (and how odd it is for a painter to characterize the wall a painting is hung on as having antipathy to the art, it is an element of Deleuze and Guattari paranoid space indeed). Because again this is in my view of mad scrapbook made 3D in painting, because it conveys the rules of operation of the magic universe of the frustrated nest, this is an authentic 21st century work of contemporary art, exemplifying a place in spirit where so many people now live, in our frightening world. I happen to think it is a very good work of contemporary art, I walked away from it thinking maybe I just saw a classic I will remember, like I still remember Kelley’s Arena from Metro Pictures in 1990
This inner sanctum is also the room of fear and desire: the desire by a self-described middle-aged faggot (his word, I don’t see it to be exclusively about that) to be acknowledged for his devotion to Boone and others, or fashion in general, and his fear perhaps that because of his sexuality and his desire it might end badly for him after all (I can’t speak to the Norwegian aspect of the art, though, without striking me as particularly superstitious, I did date a Norwegian American once). It is not, after all, a very uplifting message: but, again, it is honest, for nests are made by souls in a state of perpetual worry that they will die too young, that their lives will become a tragedy, that they will not make it to their goal, and then all this art and this stuff (look around, they will say), so cherished by them, offerings in their cult of ideals to be a great artist or a great fashion designer or a great whatever, will be looked upon as ‘junk’ by outsiders, even their spouses, after they are gone, and forthwith delivered by the unfeeling world into the dumpster out on the street. Here, again, Melgaard is a very honest guy, there is very little posturing in his art, it is an unscripted, completely exposing confession of his deepest fears as an artist: and how ironic that he has made that his art, well, that sometimes does happen, but not by the artist himself. But Melgaard saves no face, and that is rare not only in art, but in human beings.
For all of this, I do not see Melgaard as a bad boy (but we do love our clichés), or as a pervert (because he plays with dolls), or a ‘gay artist,’ or as any of the labels those who know not the inner lives of artists want to pin on him, I see him as just a nice guy with some problems, who is just honest about the possibility that he may be a mess. He is one of the most honest artists I have seen in quite some time, I think this is the vibe that people are picking up in him. For that, not for his craziness (though Walter Robinson describes a completely different side of him at another exhibition I did not see and maybe do not care to see), I admit to have taken a liking to Bjarne Melgaard’s art, in any case, I liked this exhibition very much.
PS a completion of this treatment would require a full study of the iconology of the Pink Panther, and a careful room by room search-study of the dollhouse and the forest, do not have time for this now.
PS 2. The artist from the 1980s I remembered, who worked with lifesize, real fashion, I am sure Melgaard has no knowledge of, as she never achieved “fame,” but she did ask me to write a few words on her work, so I can give her a shout out in the context of It’s Been Done, that is, the idea of hanging clothes on art. Her name is Hedy Kleinman. I do not have an example of her work because I have not archived my essay of it yet.
Disclaimer: this POV-review is based on thoughts had during rounds, supported by theory, without consultation with the artist or the gallery. October 18, 2013