Alex Da Corte A Man Full of Trouble
November 1 – December 17, 2016
Arguably, Alex Da Corte has been one of the most prolific artists of his generation in the last two or so years. Between Die Hexe, his magnificent early 2015 occupation of the Upper East Side townhouse housing the blue-chip gallery Luxembourg & Dayan, and his current return to New York with a solo exhibition at Maccarone this month, Da Corte has been productive. Earlier in March, Randy Kennedy of the New York Times used the expression “post-post-Pop sensibility” to characterize his first career survey that is still on view at Mass MoCA. Furthermore, 50 Wigs—an exhibition juxtaposing artifacts Da Corte selected from Andy Warhol’s personal belongings alongside his new sculptural work—opened at Herning Museum of Contemporary Art in Denmark this fall before A Season in He’ll— Da Corte’s first solo exhibition in L.A.—even closed its doors in September. Although the Philadelphia-based artist has delivered such an ample trajectory in recent years, his visual language and creative stimulus remain equally steady as proven by A Man Full of Trouble.
The namesake pre-Revolutionary War tavern residing in the heart of Philadelphia’s historic district serves as a catalyst for the immersive and multi-faceted universe Da Corte builds within Maccarone’s galleries. Slightly aloof, yet somewhat relatable, his installations perpetually employ familiar commercial objects, yet find their next sequence in this installment prevailed by a wall-to-wall carpet printed with the final scene of the 1963 Stanley Kramer comedy, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, at the climax where all absurdity peaks and characters stare at the camera bewildered. Spread around the gallery, on the other hand, are a group of constructed hybrids of old and new, bizarre and familiar, and demure and kitsch. Take, for example, Luncheon on Eye, an installation composed of three types of chairs made from different woods, adorned by a generous array of commercial goods including a pair of online-purchased faux Yeezy PVC boots, a mini inflatable swan, and a thrift shop-found E.T. doll. Each component manifests Da Corte’s personal aspirations and curiosities as a young queer artist born and raised under the cultural influence of consumerism. Laden with tightly interwoven autobiographical and collective narratives within their singular bodies, Da Corte’s three-dimensional works overwhelm and allure, while encapsulating his associations with Philadelphia—not only the city where he currently lives and works, but also the home of the American Revolution.
Through the artist’s treatment of variant objects, the audience is absorbed into a territory where notions of materiality, ownership, and remembrance blur. Rendering rather akin molds of association for each viewer—a teddy bear, a bowl of plastic fruits or a group of brooms—interrogate our methods for existence and memory. Trained to define ourselves through materialistic possessions, we, as the audience, feel compelled to diverge from that path for the sake of visiting a foreign territory ushered by familiar objects. What the artist considers personal or autobiographical begins to convey a collective subliminal narrative. In Diamond Deal Pandemonium, an advertisement sign Da Corte encounters everyday outside his studio pierces into the gallery in the form of a cylinder-shape sculpture accentuated by a pair of Kit-Cat clocks and a smiley moon on its rear. In The Shadow, an Ikea-bought loveseat transforms into an epitome of middle-class domestic angst, textured by a wire hanger and a knife holder atop, as well as wooden closet doors substituted for the couch’s base.
Eschewal of conclusions runs deep for Da Corte, whose transformation of sleek objects into eccentric concoctions translates subjectively. Sculptures dispersed around Maccarone’s spacious West Village post—each one demanding a full loop around its oscillating form—maintain fluidity, idiosyncrasy, and appeal, and are left open-ended for the onlooker’s interpretation. Queer juxtapositions prevail all throughout the display infused in every detail, from the obvious—a miniature version of the Wicked Witch of the West, for example—to the oblique—a neon rose sculpture titled The Last Living Rose. The Yale MFA graduate’s utilization of the queer, however, transpires organically through the embedded panache and ardor within each aesthetic composition. The gnarly paths of storytelling in Da Corte’s orchestration are paved with doses of power, identity, desire, and most importantly, memory.