Magazine article Artforum International

Keith Edmier/richard Phillips

Magazine article Artforum International

Keith Edmier/richard Phillips

Article excerpt

FRIEDRICH PETZEL GALLERY

Both Keith Edmier and Richard Phillips are interested in popular memory of the '60S and early '70S and in exacting formal procedures that tweak realism toward something outlandish. Centering on Edmier's sculptures, with a suite of drawings by Phillips in a decisive supporting role, this small show accepted nostalgia as its premise. Against this substrate, elegy morphed to cartoonish necrophilia, and the ultimate subject was a strangely conventional self-portraiture.

Edmier's sculptures (both 1998) are discrete works, but as installed they functioned as a diptych. Both are highly detailed, lifesize models, their verisimilitude contradicted by the fact that they are cast entirely in pink dental resin. Beverly Edmier, 1967 is a seated pregnant woman, stylish in a Marlo Thomas bob and Chanel suit. The flowers in A Dozen Roses are luxuriant, long-stemmed. Homage to the artist's mother? Yes, but it's not that simple. The wool suit on the figure is a recognizable copy of Jackie Kennedy's famous Dallas garb, and the roses, tied with real satin ribbon, refer, more obliquely, to the bouquet the first lady carried that fateful day. Oddest of all, the demure mother-to-be lifts her pink silk blouse with a pink-gloved silicone hand. Her belly is blood-red, transparent, and the fetus--Keith himself, presumably--is visible inside.

Edmier thus devised a series of displacements. Mixing Pop cheerfulness with morbid fascination, the livid pinks suggested lipstick and Jell-O, but also mucus membrane and congealed blood. The outfit merged Beverly with Jackie. Keith, in Beverly's lap, became the roses cradled in Jackie's arms, which in turn became the dying JFK. Beverly also corresponded to the roses, as a young beauty doomed to fade.

Phillips's five charcoal-and-chalk drawings (all 1999) extended and exploited these permutations. …

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