Aaron Curry

David Kordansky Gallery

Keith Plocek

Aaron Curry, The Monad Has Wheels (Pink King), 2010; silkscreen on wood, powder-coated aluminum; 142 x 84 x 48 inches; courtesy the artist and David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles

Tomorrow and Tomorrow, 2010; collage; 15 x 12 inches; courtesy the artist and David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles

On several works in his exhibition Two Sheets Thick, artist Aaron Curry’s name is writ large. Literally. Whether “A” or “A. Curry 2010” or something in between, these foot-long signatures are perhaps most prominent on his metal sculptures, where they are scarred on with a torch. Plenty of artists sign their work, but Curry’s branding is oversized, almost ludicrous, like Polo Ralph Lauren logos on knockoffs at a flea market. The irony here is that these marks are not even necessary. Despite rightful comparisons to Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso and Isamu Noguchi, the San Antonio native’s planar sculptures and collages are without parallel.

On view in Curry’s second solo show at David Kordansky Gallery are smooth, metal-and-wood sculptures and torn-paper collages that trade between two distinct color palettes. Some works feature ’80s-tinged, neon pinks, blues, yellows and oranges, while others sport blacks, whites and deep reds. When the twain meet—say, on The Monad Has Wheels (Pink King), an eleven-foot-tall sculpture with a black-and-white pattern silkscreened on wood that’s placed atop a pink aluminum base—the whole show is given a sense of continuity, a hint there might be a Big Idea somewhere in here. This notion is nudged along by the way the gallery’s walls have been entirely covered with pieces of cardboard that are likewise covered with a silkscreened pattern of computer-drawn beads of liquid. With this repetition of shapes, images and treatments, it is almost as if we are looking at smaller works while standing within a larger one, or caught in the sliver of space between two Russian nesting dolls.

Curry is hardly the first postindustrial artist to bat from several sides of the plate, but he is a slugger in the way his work layers and unifies opposing media and forms. As the show’s press release points out, he is as liable to silkscreen a digital image of a drop of liquid as he is to paint a picture of one or even let paint actually drop onto a piece of paper, subtly mixing the electronic, the handcrafted and the accidental. Curry started as a painter and meandered towards sculpture, but that is not to say he made it all the way there. The flatness of his work—the way his freestanding pieces look like abstracted versions of those precut wooden dinosaur kits you can buy in museum gift shops—places him in the margins, straddling the line between 2-D and 3-D. This fusion of opposites is especially glaring in the piece Power Of Off. Here, two large, bright orange aluminum plates lean against the gallery wall, somehow seeming heavier than the other metal works in the show. A mouth-like slit has been carved out of each, with cuts that seem fast and fluid but probably took a while to execute. The end result is definitely sculptural, even if the plates just sit there like a couple of unhung paintings. Like everything else in the show, the piece is resolutely planar without being flat; true to much of postindustrial culture, Curry’s work is cold and sleek yet surprisingly full of life.

Keith Plocek is a Houston-born writer living in Los Angeles.

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