I don’t often see artists using mirrors in their work, which actually is a surprise, it’s such a useful tool to talk about reflection whether of personal, public, society, individual, or material. It can be manipulated in so many ways and I’ve seen two shows that used this multi-functional material in their work.
Cocaine, 2008, oil on mirror, 60 x 80 in
I was initially dismissive of these works by Shimon Okshteyn at Stux but at a second round through the gallery I was increasingly impressed by the masterfully crafted images. The subject is vulgar, which involved pills, cocaine, masterbation, and other drugs I can’t name, all skillfully painted onto oversized mirrors. There are two life size plaster models of the artist, one masterbating in front of a painting of a Rembrandt self-portrait, the other crouching down maybe taking a poop. I was dismissive because they looked too fabricated and the subject would be for a young bachelor collector to put above his black leather couch for scantily clad guests sipping soco limes to gawk and marvel at. But in fact, it was very interesting to see my reflection amidst the lines of cocaine that were as tall as me and appropriate myself in an environment I would never imagine or dare to be caught it. They are very convincingly depicted, as shapes of razors and cig butts taking form via short repetitive consistent strokes, which are my favorite kind of strokes (not that kind of strokes).
I admit not really understanding these works by Michelangelo Pistoletto at Luhrig Augustine. They are silkscreen prints on mirror-polished stainless steel and include images of prostitutes on streets, construction vanes, street signs, a video cameraman, a riot maker throwing a rock, and man climbing a ladder. They are a bit larger than life size, mesmerizing becuase within these urban detritus settings I see myself as a participant, the mirror working as a portal of communication. None of these figures are facing the viewer, especially there gaze which is averted either to the floor, or thin air. They are all in some form of act except for the woman sitting and starring out into the sun. We are observing a passerby the same way we would on the streets. Is he trying to say we are all voyeuristic prostitutes in our truest form? I didn’t quite understand, but the mirrors made me very self-conscious and kept me from getting to close to the work to photograph but close enough to appease my curiosities.
The press release states he was one of members of Arte Povera, but I don’t really see any use of poor materials in these works…They look highly polished and perfected, pristinely printed and displayed, there is nothing that say this was done by the use of everyday materials. I guess unless mirrors fit into that category.