Purple Diary

[December 6 2017]

Aaron Young exhibition at OSMOS, New York

OSMOS’ project space may seem unassuming, and perhaps even ill- fittingly small for the scale of Aaron Young’s works. But do not let the momentary impression fool you. This uncanny venue actually serves as an appropriate spot for the spirit of Young’s survey of works. The space is off the grid and feels intimate. It appears as the right antidote to the glitzy elitism of the Chelsea art scene. There is no snobbism here that would mitigate the tightly curated project’s theme, which in Young’s words focuses on “the rotting American dream.” The show was chronologically and thematically selected by Cay Sophie Rabinowitz and combines paintings and sculptures from 2009 to 2016. The artworks were done separately, at different times and without Young’s intention to create a continuous narrative about the same subject. But as these items are brought together they all share a certain allegiance to the concealed vulgarity of American reality.
“We wanted to show a line of thought through the years, so we selected these works that have the American iconography in them,” says Young. “But over time they gain another context, so sometimes it is the right time to bring them out and look at them again,” he contends, and motions at a gargantuan particle of a fence clinging to the wall with the American flag woven through it. Without any analysis, the Mexican border debate- now a topic du jour – pops to my mind. But Young quickly notes that he made the piece in 2016, and had no intention to hint at Trump’s political agenda. The narrative here, as he emphasizes, “has more to do with containment and order” that inevitably will suggest the general use of violence to keep America safe. Then there is a giant bag portrait, a crushed gold-gilded barricade sculpture, two “target paintings”, a monstrous banana on folded steel, and a set of pink triangles featuring celebrities clad in the American flag. “I did not want to be specifically political when I made these works,” admits Young. In the end, you cannot fault him for this. Nowadays, there is too much speculation around the meaning of art works. Accordingly, creations get caught up in an infinite string of connections to ideals, ideologies and paradigms, let alone the latest trend: political correctness. Can we just enjoy art, without overthinking its background?

On view until December 11th, 2017 at OSMOS, 50 E 1st Street, 10003 New York.

Text Kinga Rajzak, photo Alexis Dahan

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