Olaf Breuning at Metro Pictures

all images via metro pictures

Olaf Breuning‘s recent solo exhibition at Metro Pictures were a step away from magnificent. I walked through the show on the last day, glad to have caught it before it was over and left feeling a few pounds lighter in the mind. Drawings and sketches were transferred and transformed to wall installations and wooden sculptures, all uniform in the ever ubiquitous black, allowing for a contemplative reflection that is part depressing part humorous, playful and non-serious. One-liner questions about the meaning of life are tainted with an ominous pessimism that if approached by any other artist, or individual, would risk a phone call to your nearby therapist. A philosophical ruse carelessly and unsuccessfully hides beneath these cartooned concoctions and their execution of paint direct on wall and small wooden blocks layered to form moved me with carefree ease. It made me envy the artist, his seeming effortlessness to not take life’s qualms too seriously, to take what you get and absorb what you see in the everyday and make fun of it, make fun out of it. Let’s mock pop culture and consume the overwhelming load of information we face everyday perusing the internet and living in this city and take a quiet moment to comically reflect what we’ve digested and how it plays within our deepest and darkest of souls. I responded this way to the show because it released my own wish to grapple with life’s quandaries by creating my own sanctuary of sorts. One that relishes in imagination and creativity, playfulness and presentness, all without losing grasp of what’s out there and leaving room for the distractions of the everyday to peek in and pester us with its unignorable presence. It’s a dreamy world, the one Breuning depicts, but not without its antagonist, the “what if” anxiety-stimulating monster that can coat our vision in black, it’s ability to oversimplify and upturn any aphorism with mocking and critical irony.

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