For Art Brussels 2017, Shulamit Nazarian presents a two-person booth of recent sculptures by Brooklyn/Tel Aviv-based Israeli artist Reuven Israel and new paintings by Los Angeles-based American artist Wendell Gladstone.
In each artist’s work, viewers are confronted with indeterminate mediums that deceive as they test one’s conventional understanding of form, surface, and art object.
Reuven Israel’s sculptural practice engages with form and color, drawing from myriad cultural references ranging from religious monuments to science fiction. These sources amalgamate into autonomous abstract sculptures that feel familiar yet unhinged from any particular context.
A thin, bare copper rod serves as a connector in each sculpture. Appearing to be machine-crafted, the sculptures are actually the result of a painstaking process that involves hand-cutting, laminating, and sanding medium density fibreboard that is then coated with industrial paints. In the resulting forms, the handmade simulates that which is industrially fabricated: Wood disguises itself as metal and plastic, and sculpture takes the form of a seemingly utilitarian object.
This game of deception is echoed in the paintings of Wendell Gladstone in which built-up canvases shatter the visual plane like skillful collages. His pieces exude a sculptural physicality that beg viewers to engage from all vantage points and permit layers of relief to emerge and disappear. Compositionally, Gladstone’s dystopian narratives burst at the seams, birthing a cast of characters that take over as pastel colors, precise contours, and pristine surfaces parody the darkness of his motley crews.
Further uniting the work is their employment of the sensuous tones and impeccable surfaces that recall the Los Angeles “Finish Fetish” artists of the 1960s. The resulting pieces in the booth adopt innovative fabrication processes, from polishing to airbrushing, articulating a seamless and perfected look directly inspired by California culture.