The Brooklyn Rail

JUL-AUG 2012

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JUL-AUG 2012 Issue

Lightness, Being

On View
Gallery Brooklyn
May 19 – June 30, 2012
New York

Intrepid gallerists often forge unexpected partnerships, and Gallery Brooklyn is a case in point. On a quiet street in Red Hook, this new space opened in a realty office, and its inaugurating exhibition, Lightness, Being,pays homage to this quirky union in subtle ways. Rather than attempting to illustrate concepts in Milan Kundera’s famous existentialist novel, the curator, Trong G. Nguyen, selected artists whose work is grounded in various ways of perceiving and representing spatial experience.

Rebecca Reeve, “Untitled #2, Brooklyn Navy Yard, New York,” 2011. Archival inkjet print. 56 1/4 x 56 1/4 inches. Courtesy the artist and Gallery Brooklyn.

This seemed especially astute as I stood before Judith Braun’s window-like “Floral Portal” (2011); the bases of these collages are photocopied images of flowers that the artist has arranged in patterns suggestive of stained glass. As I thought about where these portals might lead, I noticed a couple paused on the sidewalk examining the real estate listings that hang in the gallery’s storefront window. Were we all imagining ourselves someplace else, momentarily transported through our looking? It seemed that way.

Other pieces were particularly complementary. John Elliot’s tremendous painting, “The Approach” (2011), shared the disjunctive aesthetic and wall-sized dimensions of the zany collages contributed by the Miami collective, TM Sisters. “The Approach” comprises 333 separate little canvases arranged in an organic pattern that perhaps approximates the view of a fly as it comes in for a landing. It is as visually absorbing and serene as the TM Sisters’ op-art wallpaper and light-catching collages are frenzied and excessive. One stirs you up; one settles you down.

Rebecca Reeve’s shadowy photographs taken in the Brooklyn Navy Yard at night add a haunting note to the show. Here the light that illuminates each scene is artificial—a flashlight panning a warehouse interior. The pictures are hung on a diagonal axis, which takes a moment to orient oneself to and suggests that Reeve’s deployment of light may have been as much a matter of seeing where she was going as it was about brightening a particular scene.

This is a strong first show, though where the gallery will go from here is hard to predict. There isn’t a program per se; instead, the gallery solicits proposals from artists and curators, which means every exhibition has the potential to set off in a new direction. It also means the gallery will succeed or fail on the merits of the proposals, and that puts an interesting pressure on the very community that the gallery seeks to serve.

351 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231


The Brooklyn Rail

JUL-AUG 2012

All Issues