The text for Kimberly-Klark’s summer show “Routine à la mode” (meaning, “A fashionable routine”) suggests that physical exercise is more or less pointless. Perhaps the same could be said of making art. Working out, and making art, are both repetitive pursuits that take a lot of discipline and are often futile, but ultimately make you feel better about yourself.
Anyway, the show is comprised of six American artists, all born under the Reagan or H. W. Bush administrations, all educated at art schools in the States, and all making multifaceted figurative pieces filled with allusions. As such, it’s a small survey of new American art; but a different, more self-referential thread of new American art than that currently on view in the Whitney Biennial. Dylan Vandenhoeck’s Subway (2019) is a cubist endeavor; after painting easel-and-canvas studies while riding the subway, he returned to the studio to make a swirling, psychedelic oil painting of a carriage as seen from the perspectives of two different passengers simultaneously. A twin composition is also used by Bradley Kronz, whose wall piece A Star Is Made + Wet Spot(2019) pairs a drawing of a firefly with a glowing ass—which looks, one of the gallery’s directors keeps telling me, like it’s ejaculating—with a floppy, lifeless Gumby toy pinned to a board. Gumby’s no longer on television, but it’s summer in New York and the woods are busy with fireflies. Camila Guerrero’s More Brighter (2019) is an architectural assemblage of found objects including billiards chalk, a candle sconce and a nutcracker, and Izabelle New’s Keep Coming Back (patience) (2019) is a rather disarming hanging mobile that descends from a rabbit fur-covered strawberry, to a Swarovski-bedazzled crystal heart, to a bashed-in silver Tweetie Pie.
Last come two works referencing other exhibitions: Rafael Delacruz’s Record player with vinyl (2017) is a sculptural resurrection of parts of a show proposal rejected by an unnamed gallery in Portland two years ago. Meanwhile, artist, writer and former Artforumeditor Paige K. B.’s imagine this publication from exceedingly minor riffs Toward a Theory of giveth and taketh away w/breaks for Paige K. Bradley’s correspondence in a stream of promise (2019) is a many-layered collage of drawings, prints and texts exploring, among other things, the idea of reviewing exhibitions as a creative act and the intricate contemporary folklore of the QAnon conspiracy theory. Much like deranged internet conspiracies, she appears to suggest, contemporary art is wildly complicated, and confusing, but promises to one day reveal a greater truth, or at least to entertain us along the way.