Ten Sculptures from the Collection of Dean Geleynse
Peter Schjeldahl, art critic for the New Yorker, once wrote that an art collection is a work of criticism. (It also happens to be the perfect example of constructive criticism: When was the last time you’ve heard of someone buying a work of art only to criticize or destroy it?) So when I visited collector Dean Geleynse – of whom I wrote for the Art & Design issue of FLUX – Schjeldahl’s words immediately leaped out of the dense thicket of art quotes that crowds my head. Right in front of me was an astonishing work of art criticism, in the form of paintings and drawings, photographs and sculptures, that didn’t possess the slightest trace of negativity. And the quality of the work!
You can imagine my excitement, then, when Geleynse agreed to share a few works from his collection. First, a few facts about Geleynse: He was a docent at The Contemporary Museum; he’s been collecting art for more than 20 years; his collection includes more than 100 works of art; the focus of his collection is, generally speaking, young, emerging artists; and, interestingly enough, he doesn’t really consider himself a collector. (Wait, what?)
Below, for your viewing pleasure, are 10 sculptural works. Yes, it’s a drop in the bucket when you take into consideration the oceanic size of Geleynse’s collection, but it’s a wonderful way to dip your toes in this extraordinary work of art “criticism.” A few pieces, it should be noted, were brought out exclusively for FLUX!
John Koga – who is, without question, one of Hawai‘i’s greatest living artists – wows with this playful, anthropomorphic sculpture. The ambiguity of the form makes for the perfect Rorschach test in three dimensions: Is this a two-headed tripedal alien fresh off the set of a sci-fi flick or a fractured infinity symbol? See for yourself.
If Darth Vader collected contemporary art, it’s likely that this towering sculpture by Seattle-based artist Curtis Erlinger would appear in the Sith Lord’s living room. The analogy, as ridiculously nerdy as it is, seems apt given that the inspiration for much of Erlinger’s output comes from movies. (His work, though, samples movies less pop than arthouse: You’ll find Jean-Luc Godard before you find George Lucas). Resistance to the dark side of Erlinger’s work is futile.
Most Things Are So Meaningless You Can’t Even Watch Them (After Gober’s ‘Untitled’ Leg Wax)
The expression “toe-up” takes on new meaning when gazing at this protruding piece by San Francisco-based artist Ajit Chauhan. Juicy, luscious, with the color and consistency of strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups, Chauhan’s prosthetic limb of a sculpture will woo even those without a fetish for the foot.
This piece, by Kathryn Spence, is garbage. No, literally. The San Francisco artist fashions tiny birds out of newspaper and detritus from the street, using wire and thread to give form and structure to the feathered denizens of the city. Spence’s brilliant use of recycled materials to create the often overlooked winged creatures makes you think twice about shooing away a cluster of birds clamoring for the crumbs of your lunch.
This ghostly sculpture resembles a brittle artifact unearthed at an archeological dig – the skeletal vestige, perhaps, of an ancient king’s throne. Drew Daly, based in Seattle, took a chair and sanded it, again and again, over and over. Three-hundred hours later, with the chair thoroughly whittled down, he finally stopped.The result is this phantom furniture piece, which is as direct and pure a connection between material and process as you’ll find anywhere.
These vehicular rapscallions, by Honolulu artist Jason Teraoka, seem freighted with the same sly, whimsical, slightly macabre qualities as the characters in his paintings for which he is more commonly known. These urusai riffraff could be mistaken for the colorful tchotchkes that appeared alongside Teraoka’s paintings at his biennial exhibition at The Contemporary Museum, but make no mistake: Teraoka is as exceptional with a band saw as he is with a paintbrush, and these well-crafted dudes are far from the plastic figures you’ll find in Happy Meals.
Wait a second. What’s that on the ground? For a moment, I thought the cigarette butts were the remnants of a house party at Geleynse’s pad, where smokers, maybe a bit too tipsy or lazy, indulged in a postprandial puff without stepping outside. But no, it was an installation. Tony Matelli, a Brooklyn-based artist, rendered these little loosies with such precision and detail that I didn’t believe they weren’t real until Geleynse picked one up and put it in my hand. The weight of the brass was like “Whoa,” and the heaviness quickly belied an actual cigarette end. These cigs are safe to inhale – with your eyes, of course.
Who needs the mind-bending, world-shifting spectacle of Christopher Nolan’s ‘Inception’ when Brent Sommerhauser, a Las Vegas artist, can transform the physical world, and your perception of it, with just one door? This formerly discarded door, which Sommerhauser took and subsequently folded into itself, flabbergasts. No cast or crew needed for this blockbuster of a sculpture.
Leah Rosenberg, a San Francisco artist, could comfortably segue into a career as a pastry chef. This mouthwatering, layer-cake-like sculpture looks good enough to sink your teeth into. Don’t. It’s made from individual layers of acrylic paint that are stacked one on top of the other. Rosenberg’s confectionary wonder would seem right at home twirling in a frosty display case at a specialty bakery, next to other sweet, fondant-covered delights. Even under a vitrine, its deliciousness is inescapable.