Enchantments Aplenty: Magic Object

Photograph by Paul D'Agostino.
Photograph by Paul D’Agostino.

There is something absolutely enigmatic and at least subtly magical about Magic Object, a group exhibition curated by Rico Gatson at 99¢ Plus Gallery (through August 23rd). Featuring a half dozen sculptures and a few pieces whose two dimensions are imbued with an implied third, the exhibit does indeed succeed in pulling off one fine trick, truly magical or not: it turns the gallery’s rather tiny exhibition space into one that feels nearly huge.

Gatson has included a piece of his own in the show, Panel Painting #1, a lean-to sculpture that hints at works in his Magic Stick series while channeling the vivid colors and energetic arrays that factor into much of his work, sculptural and otherwise. Given a certain visitational trajectory—a visitor’s choices are certainly, here, not many—this piece functions as an apt portal into the rest of the show. Off to its side and mounted low, for instance, are a few porcelain sculptures by Roxanne Jackson, one of which, Snake Eyes, bears chromatic parallels to Gatson’s piece, while all three display a fully relatable ecstatic mode—egressive into suggested infinity, formally, yet also, regarding the Chrome Cats pieces, physically exothermic, given their silver-glazily metallic reflectivity. Across the room from Jackson’s works are a few other pieces with similar angularities. MaryKate Maher’s Spire—which one might a bit unfairly liken to a wizard’s head piece, given the context of the show—is like an improbably stalagmitic upcropping of matte obsidian, diminutively mountainous and ominously pointed. Next to this are two paintings by Aaron Williams—History Painting I and History Painting II, displayed here in diptych fashion—featuring low-relief linearities, at once labyrinthine and circuit-like, whose precise groovings tend internally toward hexagonal full-stops, echoing several of the pentagonal end points jutting forth from Jackson’s porcelains. Statically hypnotic and materially alluring, William’s works, in this particular setting, and thanks in part to their wall mounts, read like the verso sides of a giant magician’s deck of oversized playing cards, their possible recto-resolved trickery left ever unknowable in a shadowy limbo of mural mystery. CAGED Ringtone, then, a hefty curl of gently furling wind chimes by Alex Lee Harris, hangs heavily from the ceiling while providing intuitable yet essentially unrepeatable—not to mention quite difficultly describable, as chime sounds tend to be—acoustic leavening to the show’s variably grounded, effulgent, enigmatically incantatory charms.

And the chimes chime once, twice, thrice. Nearly the same and never the same. And then again and all over again. And there, and then, and poof!
Paul D’Agostino is @postuccio on Instagram and Twitter.


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