Nothing comes across as so non-impactful and mediocre to me as an art piece that overestimates it’s own worth. In a world where other, secret “meanings” and underlying messages are so ambiguous and easily overlooked or misinterpreted, the inability of an artist to convey their own conviction to the viewer is a fault in it’s own right, regardless of the content or style of their work. A such group of works that speaks this same inconsistency to me belongs to an installation from Olaf Breuning from the Metro Pictures Installation. The installation is composed of 13 pieces, three of them ink on paper illustrations while the rest are ceramic sculptures. Upon immediate sight of the installation, my heart was not immediately struck with any particular reaction – nothing I saw in front of me was technically impressive by any metric, so I investigated further to see if perhaps, as is often the case, Breuning decided in this instance to discard style in favor of substance. However, I myself couldn’t see anything of the sort. The childish style of the ink drawings and the rather lackluster sculptures were lacking both in artistic and metaphorical finesse. The content of the works was, of course, inoffensive – that in itself was a problem, as it provoked no thought at all from it’s viewer. Art is known for it’s ability to surprise and shock; why then, would any artist willingly stay within a safe zone so obvious as this? When I thought upon the idea, a repurposing of a youthful style of art is not uncommon in order to convey some message among all artists – but the installation I saw was so heavily and unnecessarily contrasted with the room’s professional lighting and pretentious, clean, jet-black frames and pedestals that the I couldn’t bring myself to take it seriously in any sense of the word. In many instances, plaques with worded explanations on the processes and message of a certain piece usually supplement more mediocre works with none of the backbone to convey that information visually – but I couldn’t imagine an explanation that could justify the sight I saw the day I visited this exhibition. The only reasonable explanation I could conceive for an exhibit such as this is that it is plagued by the same inconsistent trend that has afflicted many in the art world – the conflict of style, message, and the artist’s own cognition of not only their own works, but even of the world they live in. This installation was, to be frank, a morbid proof of one’s sore lack of self-awareness.
Olaf Breuning (Metro Pictures Installation, 519 W 24th St, New York, NY 10011)