The last few visits to Chelsea have offered up some nice unexpected surprises. A Jack Goldstein painting here, a Basquiat show there. I happened upon both these shows by accident.
Last week's glorious accident was Shi Jinsong's Na Zha Baby Boutique at Chambers Fine Art. I had gone to 210 11th Avenue to see the Judith Linhares show at Edward Thorp. (See Jerry Saltz's enthusiastic review of the Linhares here . Saltz nails it. I liked the show a little less than him, but only a little.)
After seeing Linhares' show, I hopped back on the elevator and ran into Chistophe Mao, a dealer I'd met a couple of times at Creative Time functions. I was under the very mistaken impression that he had a gallery in China. He actually has a gallery here (on the 4th floor of 210 as a matter of fact), representing artists from China. I hit the 4 button.
What a treat. Absolutely sick show (As in illin'.). The sculptures and the blueprints are beautiful in a really wrong way. Shiny, smooth, and caustic; they seethe with desperation and fear. The show made me think of Chinese birth control policies, David Bowman's utterly weird and thoroughly entertaining Bunny Modern, and the high school hallways of the Park Slope Stroller Brigade. All of these things lead me back to the primal urge to protect; not just your child, but what is yours. Possession. It is a sharp thing.
From the gallery's website, "The title refers to an enduring figure of Chinese folklore and mythology: Na Zha, an impish trickster with supernatural powers and flamboyant fashion sense (legend has it his red silk trousers generated so much heat the sea began to boil, enraging the East Sea Dragon King). Na Zha's essential ferocity long since tamed in the Chinese psyche, he is now chiefly celebrated as a God of Lotteries and Gambling, a commodified totem of the new global economy."