Christopher K. Ho: Demoiselles d’Avignon
April 5 - May 4, 2013
165 Orchard Street
New York NY 10002
Curated by Aldo Sanchez with an essay by A.E. Benenson
Y Gallery is pleased to present Demoiselles d’Avignon, Christopher K. Ho’s first solo exhibition at the space. Continuing his exploration of class and identity, Ho revisits the concept of the primitive and its relationship to the history of abstraction in Western culture. Here, he playfully envisions modern painting through the eyes of a future class of refined Chinese princelings in the year 2063.
Accounts of primitivism nearly always issue from the viewpoint of the “master,” whether they romanticize the primitive “other” or critique precisely such fetishistic relationships. In contrast Ho asks: What if we in the US circa 2013 are the primitives? After over a century of Western abstraction, might not the latter’s principles—of objectivity, of negation, of transparency, of liberation—stand as the naïve beliefs of a backwards culture that has yet to catch up with globalization and its aesthetic correlates? And might embracing the secondary position of the primitive secure relevance if not dominance—that is, trade pole position for some position?
As A.E. Benenson writes about the exhibition, “In this installation, Abstraction is the primitive Other. For Ho, the primitive describes not so much, say, masks from Africa, as any cultural product that is simultaneously retrograde and alluring precisely because of some perceived simplicity.”
That simplicity is embodied here in nine compositions made of cut watermarked paper and Color-aid that are held between glass sheets and mirrors. These works—crosses between abstract paintings and coffee tables—rest on chunks of ebony, alabaster, bleached white oak, and black-and-white 3D-printed ceramic. Wall-to-wall white carpet covers the floor and will dirty over the exhibition’s course.
The sole wall piece in the exhibition is a large print with the same aspect ratio as Picasso’s breakthrough 1907 painting. It features a digitally distorted montage of the Spaniard’s sketches for the work. A fan-shaped bronze-tinted mirror, poised between upright and recumbent, interrupts the bottom edge. Y Gallery, it suggests, is both a real and pictorial space that stages an encounter between a subject and some tantalizing other.