Art Seen: National

SCOTT REEDER // LISA COOLEY

by Nadiah Fellah

Humor and irreverence mark Chicago artist Scott Reeder’s new exhibition of paintings and sculptures at Lisa Cooley in New York. In People Call Me Scott, Reeder embodies an atmosphere similar to Club Nutz, a space/program co-run by the artist and his brother Tyson Reeder. Many of the text-based works in the show read like punch lines, spoofing on the seriousness of the art world, exhibition titles, and process art. Reeder also pokes fun at minimalist and conceptual artists with abstract, crumpled forms rendered in aluminum that dot the floor of the gallery – evocative of John Chamberlain or Frank Gehry’s sculptures – entitled Bad Ideas.

Installation view, Scott Reeder: People Call Me Scott at Lisa Cooley Gallery, October 27 – December 22, 2013. Courtesy Lisa Cooley Gallery.

Installation view, Scott Reeder: People Call Me Scott at Lisa Cooley Gallery, October 27 – December 22, 2013. Courtesy Lisa Cooley Gallery.

Upon entering the gallery, viewers are initially confronted with large abstract canvases, “all-over” patterns similar to those of Jackson Pollock or Cy Twombly. Upon closer inspection, one learns that the abstract meanderings of Reeder’s marks are made by placing pasta noodles on the canvases and spraying paint over them – resulting in the ethereal quality throughout his pieces. Although exquisitely executed to a refined effect, the revelation of their making is another way in which he undermines the esteem and value that is given to acclaimed works like them.

Bad Ideas, 2013. Painted aluminum. In 4 parts: 7 x 8 x 8 inches; 7.5 x 9.5 x 8 inches; 9 x 9 x 8 inches; 7.5 x 10 x 8 inches. Courtesy Lisa Cooley Gallery.

Bad Ideas, 2013. Painted aluminum. In 4 parts: 7 x 8 x 8 inches; 7.5 x 9.5 x 8 inches; 9 x 9 x 8 inches; 7.5 x 10 x 8 inches. Courtesy Lisa Cooley Gallery.

Untitled (Pasta Painting), 2013. Oil and enamel on canvas 84 x 60 inches. Courtesy Lisa Cooley Gallery.

Untitled (Pasta Painting), 2013. Oil and enamel on canvas
84 x 60 inches. Courtesy Lisa Cooley Gallery.

Likewise, in the numerous Rusha-like text panels also on view, Reeder has replaced the profound or poetic expressions one might expect with two-word statements like “Fake Work” and “Post Good.” Using wry humor to upset expectations about so-called high art and the meaning of its placement in a commercial space, the works are also indicative of the importance language plays in the artist’s practice. An indexical tool that he uses, much like the forms and mediums he chooses, evoke artists and movements – so thoroughly and ubiquitously ingrained in the art historical canon.

Installation view, Scott Reeder: People Call Me Scott at Lisa Cooley Gallery, October 27 – December 22, 2013. Courtesy Lisa Cooley Gallery.

Installation view, Scott Reeder: People Call Me Scott at Lisa Cooley Gallery, October 27 – December 22, 2013. Courtesy Lisa Cooley Gallery.

Any subtlety or restraint Reeder sustained in his canvas works are abandoned in the two large chalkboards included in the show, each titled with the headings “Alternative Titles for Recent Exhibitions I’ve Seen” and “Song Titles.” In the former, the artist offers hilarious parodies for contemporary art exhibitions. Attempting to assign referents for some of them is straightforward, like “Believe It Or Not, I Own A Computer” and “Indoor Street Art,” which poke fun at the rise of digital art and graffiti art’s recent appearance in museums and galleries, the saliency of which is especially poignant given Banksy’s October residence in New York. However, others appear to be blanket criticisms, as with “Mad At Museums (Part 6)”—perhaps referring to the rise in art that emerged from the Occupy Movement—and “The Men’s Movement.” These works help to set the tone of the exhibition, and Reeder’s practice in general, the lightness and humor of which are refreshing alternatives to the typical gallery show.

Alternate Titles for Recent Exhibitions I've Seen, 2013. Chalk on chalkboard paint, acrylic adhesive. 84 x 64 inches. Courtesy Lisa Cooley Gallery

Alternate Titles for Recent Exhibitions I’ve Seen, 2013.
Chalk on chalkboard paint, acrylic adhesive. 84 x 64 inches. Courtesy Lisa Cooley Gallery

Also included in the exhibition is a neon sign displaying a 10-digit telephone number with a Chicago area code. Riffing on the classic use of neon lights by artists like Bruce Nauman, the work is seemingly an invitation to speak with the artist himself, especially given the informal nature of his work. However, dialing the number only yielded the recorded message of unlabeled voicemail box, perhaps a reference once again to the disjunction between our expectations and the ability of art to deliver on them.

312-718-9800. White neon, wiring, mounting hardware 7 x 48 inches. Courtesy Lisa Cooley Gallery.

312-718-9800. White neon, wiring, mounting hardware
7 x 48 inches. Courtesy Lisa Cooley Gallery.





Nadiah Fellah is a doctoral student of Art History at the Graduate Center, CUNY in New York.

Scott Reeder: People Call Me Scott is on view at Lisa Cooley Gallery in New York through December 22nd.

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