Burton / Jensen / Vo
presents six signature works by Scott Burton, Sergej Jensen and Danh Vo. While the works in the exhibition vary greatly both in appearance and impact – ranging from the austere to the luxurious and from the fragile to the monumental – they come together to present a cohesive survey of modern artistic form.
Scott Burton (1939-89) was an American sculptor and performance artist whose oeuvre he himself described as ‘sculpture in love with furniture’; the works presented here embody that philosophy. Café Table
(1984) and Two Cube Table
(1985) dominate the centre of the gallery. From a distance, the simple shapes initially suggest furniture; closer at hand, however, the works reveal themselves as truly sculptural, their presence imposing rather than functional. The heft and cut of the material belie the most crucial criteria of function in furniture – portability and comfort – while the ornate surface of the granite serves to further distance the nature of the works, pushing them from the realm of the utilitarian, into that of ornament.
The two works by Sergej Jensen (b. 1973, Denmark) are representative of both ends of his practice: the austere, muted purple of Untitled
(2011) stands in direct contrast with the bright, ludic composition of Untitled
(2001). Jensen’s approach to painting constitutes a fresh look at minimal painting. The diverse actions and choices that go into his paintings are less about the materials used, than about the methodology and process employed in their making. Untitled
(2001), with its harlequin arrangement of multi-coloured shapes, reveals infelicities in its own making: in places the dye has bled out, and some preparatory lines remain, long after the painting was finished. In Untitled
(2011), Jensen’s exploration of minimal gesture is such that even the inclusion of a ragged piece of sailcloth seems not to allude to an addition, but rather to the subtraction of the fragment from the larger, unseen, sail. Taken together, the paintings come to embody a narrative of time passing, and of time’s corollary, loss.
Both examples of the works by Danh Vo (b. 1975, Vietnam) in the exhibition have in common with the Jensens their use of found material. Vo, however, seeks to draw attention to the ephemeral and inexpensive ubiquity of cardboard boxes through the addition of gold leaf, seeking to invert values, or perceptions thereof. Both pieces reflect darkly different versions of the American dream: Kleenex
(2010) displays the first incarnation of the American flag, drawn up at the country’s independence, when only thirteen states formed the union. Sweet Oblivion
(2013), however, makes clear how those early American aspirations toward liberty and free speech have been usurped by consumerism and that the symbols of America – like the Bald Eagle of the Budweiser brand – lie in tatters like the box itself, emptied of bottles.