|Gavin Brown’s Enterprise
439 W 127th Street, New York
|February 7 – April 5, 2020|
Uri Aran’s artwork contends with and confounds rigid notions of meaning. He posits that an object or word’s legibility is not inherent, but rather conditional, its comprehensibility reliant on context. Rather than mediating our perception of meaning, he opens things up, allowing language to breathe, to bleed; the pictorial becomes material becomes linguistic, then cycles back again. Our encounters with his work are unstable and unpredictable, taking place within semantic cracks and deficiencies, failures of direct expression.
Aran has called his new show at GBE House, seeming initially to turn the gallery itself into an allegory for a domestic space. But this literal transposition does not track. The title does draw out certain homely elements in the show – but it also generates dissonance. As we experience the show, “house” begins to unfold, its multiple meanings weaving in and out of clarity, overlapping with and separating from one another.
The artist has a decidedly unfixed relationship to media, combining aspects of sculpture, video, painting, drawing, and installation, ignoring the traditional formal constraints of each. Regardless of their material inconsistency and lack of discernable subject matter, the show’s works have a strong sense of unity, even interconnectivity. Written language provides a philosophical structure: Aran has created something like a vocabulary or alphabet, albeit an inscrutable one.
Tonally, the show is idiosyncratic, and emotionally disorienting. Certain moments are simultaneously playful and deeply somber. The artist’s willingness to dwell in interstitial, apparently contradictory emotional registers endows the works with a peculiar and often surprising humanity; conflicting feelings don’t just sit atop one another, but share the same space, as they do in life.