What’s home, anyway, but a series of small tragedies?
JACK SHAINMAN GALLERY 513 West 20th Street May 16–June 22, 2019
In this gallery’s back room, several smaller-than-life-size figurative sculptures by South African artist Claudette Schreuders stand or lie in various states of intimate repose. The show’s title, “In the Bedroom,” refers to the air of domesticity surrounding the body of work. Her subjects—carved from wood or cast in bronze—are mostly engaged in private acts, be it brushing their hair, lying in bed, or having spectacularly dull sex.
The brilliantly titled Little Table, 2018, shows a straight couple mid-coitus; the woman is leaning forward, bent over the titular item of furniture, while the man mounts her from behind. She wears only a bra, and he an undershirt. The looks of ennui on their faces suggest that they are not enmeshed in the most passionate affair. Burning Secret, 2018, one of the few sculptures here to delve steadfast into the world of metaphor, shows a nude figure standing with her eyes closed. Her body is pockmarked by bits of fire. 2019 bust of South African president Cyril Ramaphosa is also present.
It feels singular because it’s not loosely based on someone from Schreuders’s personal life, asserting that the political and the personal are inextricably entwined—something we’re all too familiar with in the United States.
Included in the exhibition are several prints and paintings on paper. Among them is Budgie, 2018, a lithograph depicting a lonely pet parakeet attentively sitting on its perch. As if a caged bird weren’t sad enough, a few feet away, a painted bronze sculpture titled The End, 2018, shows another parakeet, belly-up and dead on a plinth. What’s home, anyway, but a series of small tragedies? — Wallace Ludel