Friday, August 25, 2006

I Need Something for Over My Sofa | Monique Meloche Gallery

I need something for over my sofa | Monique Meloche Gallery
Originally Posted on Panel-House: December 2003

I once read that whatever art work that resides above one’s bed represents the summation of that person’s psyche. As such, that same image goes on to play a significant role in the dreams of the sleeper(s), a kind of subtler approach to Salvador Dali’s experiment in painting his bedroom in vivid oranges and pinks within which he drifted off with the lights on. This self-induced performance dream art, as a study of the unconscious, inevitably reveals a slighter, yet equally complex condition. How often do we actually pay attention to the art on the walls of our home, especially they are not the center of attention? And should we feel guilty about this? Or at least a wee bit sentimental?

Monique Meloche’s current foray into design and art, I need something for over my sofa., starts, and ends, with not art for the bedroom but art for that social hub of any respectable home - the living room. But here, as it was made quite clear, to sit is to eer. Displayed is artwork by seven artist reside above six seperate reclining apparatuses. Forcing the viewer to admire with physical and psychological obstacles, this foray into obviated curatorial decision making is so disturbing it actually works. The sunken gallery itself serves as a sort of abbreviated warehouse reminiscent of those exposes of Architectural Digest-type spreads of wealthy collectors homes regaled in stressed floral arraignments, ostentatious modern furniture and cramped contemporary art.

I could not help feel this overwhelming sense of yearn here, being a part of the reason this exhibition is worth visiting. Is this a desperate attempt to simply sell art by the gallery in a Merchandise Mart sort of way (with a nod to the gift buying season)? Or is this a antiquated postmodern slight of hand environment with subliminal underpinnings aimed at a narrative of aesthetic nihilism? Or neither? Regardless, standing and staring is the way to go here - believe you me.

Some of the works of art (the hanging kind that is) are really quite strong, but expectant. Laura Letinsky still-life photography, Robert Davis & Michael Langlois paintings and Carla Aracho’s blunt non-color field come to mind. But the point here is the combination of the two. Unfortunately, shoved together side by side with the inevitable peripheral obstructions, the experience becomes rather unnerving. In a perfect world each combination would exist unto it’s own, but alas, how many times has that thought been uttered?

The furniture, from a bright pink Philippe Starck piece that looked like it could have been pulled out of Target, to an old Victorian love seat that might have been featured on an episode of Antiques Roadshow - looked as uncomfortable to sit in as it did being there in the first place. All that was missing was a suspended gilded Italian chandelier (conveniently located one store east at Casati Furniture, an Italian importer of over priced home furnishings, that also provided one of the couches for the exhibition, and possibly one of the most fascinating “galleries” in the West Loop). A spied trixie and dudetrixie didn’t seem to mind too much though. It sounded like bells going off as they perused the price list and sipped their white wine. Ah, decisions.

Neither entity here, the furniture or the art, could have worked in this exhibition successfully without the other. A sad state of affairs perhaps, but alas, a telling trope on increasingly homogenous fine art/fine fashion amalgamations indelibly evident in today’s art world. One existing within the others confines, becoming ultimately nothing more than just a nail-hanger for the other, might sum up this disposition in short. Sort out the details yourself.

Is this an opportunity to display show pieces for the accommodating home, the occasional visitor who might object if the television gets turned on during the cocktails or the lambasted unconscious? Perhaps the next exhibition in the series, curated by Douglas Levine from January 9th to 24th, will substitute the settees with exotic televisions - and turn them on. At any rate, the soul of the painting above my own couch, er futon, has gained a more significant role in my household. The art above my bed, umm, other futon, has duly been removed and replaced by nothing.

Written by Britton Bertran


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