Pushing Pencils and Plungers with the Wildly Inventive András Böröcz

To you, it’s a pencil, a chair, a rake, or a toilet plunger. To András Böröcz, these everyday objects are artifacts of human life, symbols of creativity and consumption—and material for his latest work.

Profound Objects,” now at Pavel Zoubok Gallery in New York, features assemblages, sculptures, drawings, and performance art pieces by the Hungarian-born artist. The new exhibition is a natural continuation of his fruitful practice, which has been going strong for nearly 40 years.

From the start, Böröcz has been interested in quotidian objects and their roles in our daily lives. Back in the ’90s, the New York Times said his spacious Brooklyn loft was a perfect setting for sculptures made “of everything from loaves of bread to wine corks, eggs and logs.” At the time of his marriage in 1995, he was “working with pencils, which he carves into elaborate miniature figures.” Now, more than 20 years later, he’s still working with pencils: Trident (2016) consists of pencils, white marble, and a wooden chair, while the delicate Wisp: Object of Desire (2016) features a rose stem and belt atop a mass of carved pencils.

Pencils are also incorporated into one of the show’s most important works, Charger (2016), an assemblage centered on a wooden rocking horse. Photographers will also recognize one of the work’s other major elements: a darkroom enlarger. The creation of Charger, and the different uses its conjoined objects might have, inspired the diagram-like Acoustic Studies for Escape Through the Chimney (2015–16), a series of drawings stretched tightly over household items like pots, lampshades, and plungers.

And Böröcz didn’t just build the assemblage and portray it in a suite of drawings. He also uses those two works as the foundation for a performance art piece, during which he rhythmically drums the Acoustic Studies drawings as he rocks back and forth atop the Charger assemblage.

It’s a meta moment, to be sure, to the point of parody. “Böröcz’s performances are satires of studio work,” art historian Agnes Berecz writes in the exhibition catalog. “Not unlike Bruce Nauman’s late 1960s films and photographs, Böröcz’s work employs the performative as a rescue operation to simulate and parody processes of object making and artistic labor.” This is the artist at work and at play as his fertile imagination draws new meanings of profundity.


—Bridget Gleeson


András Böröcz: Profound Objects” is on view at Pavel Zoubok Gallery, New York, May 26–Jun. 25, 2016.

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