Saturday, October 11, 2008


Last weekend. Neil Campbell's show at Marianne Boesky. Stopped by for one last look. Um, not so much. What a drag. What a great piece. Sigh. All gone now. Somebody needs to buy this and make it permanently available for public viewing.

Don't take my word for it's great goodness though. Jerry Saltz nailed it. Nailed it, I say. One last look back, because, well, it was such a good piece it's even fun to remember. Anyway . . .

By rights, another gallery show that opened in Chelsea those first nights should be as irksome, dull, and derivative as Serrano’s and Attie’s. Yet, except for one terrible clunker of a metal sculpture, Neil Campbell’s show is rivetingly mysterious. Campbell paints black blips, circles, and other shapes on the wall. That’s it. But his pitch-perfect way of blending architecture, placement on the wall, size, and edges produces retinal and phenomenological power. Two black ovals painted at solar-plexus height make the room go rubbery and space wobble. The wall seems to disappear as you imagine you’re looking through the gallery into a parallel universe of dark matter. A nearby grid of dots is like a Mondrian in space. The black and yellow circles make one aware of the inconsistencies of vision, the little ghosts, floaters, and halos that form when one looks intently at something. This piece doesn’t stop popping.

Campbell is revisiting older ideas and artists, and shades of Lawrence Weiner, James Turrell, Robert Irwin, and Bridget Riley hang over this mesmerizing outing. But so does the spirit of something deeply committed, convincing, and felt. Campbell’s show demonstrates that if you see only one good thing in a day of viewing, you’ve had a good day. That’s how strong powerful art is.

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