Mitchell-Innes & Nash presents One thing after another (part two), a solo exhibition of new and retro work by Pope.L. This is the artist’s fifth solo exhibition with the gallery and the first in New York since he was awarded the Bucksbaum Award from the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2017.
One thing after another (part two) elliptically follows Pope.L’s similarly titled exhibition at La Panacée in Montepellier— the artist’s first major solo museum show in France.
Pope.L’s practice often focuses on the uncertain but productive space between differences in language, class, race, and gender to create works that simultaneously enlist, mock and re-write convention. For Pope.L this gap is where ignorance interacts with hubris to create fresh tensions around authenticity, self and icon. The works on view in One thing after another (part two) are, as the artist notes, “a disgustingly neat pile of doubt, experiment, and denial shoved up hot against claim, leap, gambit, and caesura—your basic scrabbling about in the dark…”
The exhibition features a dozen large Re-Photo collages, in which the artist has manipulated images of parts, mostly body parts, combining them with fragments from various print media to create “figural encounters” that have been scanned, re-printed and flattened into single large planes of paper. The Re-Photos originated out of Pope.L’s desire to betray the artist’s hand while simultaneously creating images highly suggestive of the body. The works display a hopped-up mechanical puppet-like feel yet function as a kind of tired but comic modernist chest-beating cum self-obliteration and dis-recognition. Pope.L says of these pieces: “What’s key is the body that can’t hold itself together; its wholeness is a cartoon.”
The Re-Photo collages are accompanied by a set of wall-mounted acrylic boxes, retro works, filled with bags of fertilizer and paint, each bag plastered with a photocopied image of a smiling Martin Luther King Jr. Titled Rebuilding the Monument, the pieces project a sad, humorous, highly irreverent sense of derogation in their staging of an esteemed historical figure’s image. The works function as anti-monuments, bringing into question representation’s take on Martin Luther King Jr., while at the same time putting in relief the artist’s modus of figural obliteration and authenticity.
The exhibition space is anchored and divided by a black-box video installation which houses one of Pope.L’s many versions of his video project, Syllogism. The video explores the rich and disruptive fantasy life behind deductive reasoning. Like systems of logic, social and political concepts are defined in relation to the group they serve, Syllogism stages these contours as blurred and soggy tropes of sex, power and creme pie.
“Space the place between the copy and the copy!”–Sun Raall images © the gallery and the artist(s)