Magazine article Artforum International

Banks Violette: Team/Gladstone Gallery

Magazine article Artforum International

Banks Violette: Team/Gladstone Gallery

Article excerpt

One could hardly have invented better publicity: The opening of Banks Violette's summer doubleheader at Team and Gladstone Gallery--his first solo show in a New York gallery since 2002--was delayed due to mysterious "technical difficulties" involving not just the forces of darkness but also those of propane gas and liquid nitrogen. "The work set fire to the gallery!" ran the breathless rumor, and while the reality may have been more prosaic, the scene was set. It was a little disappointing, then, to find Violette in solid but entirely predictable form, no more or less "extreme" than on his previous outing, and even beginning to seem faintly mannered.

The dominant color scheme across both shows was Violette's signature white, silver, gray, and hell's-mouth black. Filling Gladstone's space was an electric thrumming signifying the involvement not only of light-industrial machinery and heavy-duty lighting but also the contribution of regular collaborator Stephen O'Malley, guitarist in metal band Sunn O))). The work in each interior was scaled to fit (more or less) the available space, but the two installments might otherwise have been one, so contiguous was their look and feel. Both were predictably smart and stylish, combining art-historically correct allusions to Minimalism (here most obviously Sol LeWitt) and Earth art (Robert Smithson's visualizations of entropy in particular) with a still-fashionable fascination with deconstructed stoner rock and its associated, only semi-ironic post-goth theatrics.

The show at Team was dominated by two works, both in the main gallery. The first consisted of the scattered remnants of a drum kit, painted a glossy black and connected, by a system of copper pipes, to a propane tank housed inside a musician's road case. At least symbolically a relic of an earlier (closed) performance by O'Malley's band, this work was backed by an outsize, inverted representation of the Jagermeister logo--a stag's head topped by a radiant crucifix--in white fluorescent bulbs mounted on a steel armature. …

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