Magazine article Sculpture

Philadelphia

Magazine article Sculpture

Philadelphia

Article excerpt

Jessi Reaves

Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania

In Jessi Reaves's recent exhibition, her sculptural furniture was integrated both formally and functionally with a group of surreal still-life paintings by fellow New Yorker Ginny Casey. Curator Charlotte Ickes described these complementary bodies of work as "two solo exhibitions." The juxtaposition with Casey's intensely colored paintings of unfinished objects and hovering body parts set in cavernous ateliers placed Reaves's work within a context of conversations about the artist's studio and the erotics of the psychoanalytic part-object.

A pair of green plastic gardencenter chairs, Chair 1 and Chair 2 (both 2016), faced viewers at the entrance to the exhibition. These two chairs were once one-the original had been roughly split in two, its spine and ribs built out and repaired using sections of driftwood and highly patterned fabric padding, then secured with a mixture of glue and a mystical-sounding substance that Reaves terms "studio dust." Studio dust looks like sawdust, but it is laden with meaning, having been gathered in the place where artistic magic happens. Reaves molds this dust into new, often extravagant shapes; she also uses it to mend and patch pieces. Split Mess (Barley Twist Lamps) (2017), for example, is augmented with curly, seahorse legs molded in this way. This and other Reaves lamps-including the gangly and drunkenly leaning Worthless Lump (Lamp) (2017)-punctuated the gallery, lending a theatrically domestic feel with their warm yellow light.

Several intricate wall-based works appeared both surreal and functional. …

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