April 29, 2006
By Edith Newhall
Andrew Jeffrey Wright's installation at Spector is a little like an enormous version of the ongoing "art project" on my refrigerator. But the collection of images on my refrigerator is positively sedate compared to Wright's.
The front gallery's three walls are covered with neo-geo paintings in psychedelic pinks, oranges, yellows, blues and greens; paintings of recognizable images (like a plaid suitcase with the words Weekend Drugs painted on it); framed and unframed cartoony drawings; and graffiti tags and aphorisms (such as "Pink Skull," "Slave to the Rave," and "drink more soda!") spray- and handpainted directly onto the wall. Wright is also showing painted T-shirts, a 'zine, buttons, screenprints, and two freestanding mixed-media pieces made in collaboration with artist Barry McGee, both involving stuffed animals.
Wright's juvenile humor and freewheeling everything-but-the-kitchen-sink aesthetic are delicious together - he makes me think of Richard Prince, Mike Kelley and Jim Shaw rolled into one - but his filmic display style could be even more compressed and expanded than it is now.
Adam Wallacavage, a friend of Wright's, is showing his color photographs in Spector's back gallery. The two share a deadpan humor, evident in Wallcavage's quirky, casual shots of people (an elderly man wearing a cap printed with "Nobody Listens Nobody Cares"; the late artist Margaret Kilgallen, very pregnant and sitting next to Chris Johanson) and things (a stuffed toy bunny lying on dirt; a doll with a squished face). They are also reminiscent of William Eggleston's snapshots of the American South: utterly everyday and yet slightly sinister or sad.
May 10, 2006
by Roberta Fallon
Andrew Jeffrey Wright's second solo exhibit at Spector Gallery, "Art World," is one of the smartest and sassiest shows of the year. All Wright's familiar motifs are present-irreverence, humor, collaboration (here, with 10 other artists). Wright is all about people and contemporary culture. His works are critiques that go down easy, their knifelike humor skewering the pompous yet leaving it recognizable to be contemplated at its worst and best.
With 60 paintings, drawings and collages (plus T-shirts, buttons and a zine) ranging in price from $2 to $10,000 (for a collaborative installation with Barry McGee), the show's a generous, community-spirited affair. Works hang in crowded groupings that feel like buddies huddled together at a high school cafeteria table. Lovable by the dozen, the paintings, prints and drawings stand alone, each one a complete thought executed with graphic punch and finesse.
The "Jim Drain" collaboration with McGee is a great 3-D cartoon. The piece uses the artist's Furby collection, seen in his last Spector solo. Here the Furbys are piled in an open metal trash can like throwaways. A cutout in the can's bottom shows a miniature bathroom in which a lone Furby stares open-eyed in the mirror as he tags the wall. The 3-D cartoon marries McGee's roots as a graffiti artist with Wright's sense of the absurd.
Wright's aesthetic is so multifaceted, there's something for everyone. Some will like his cartoons featuring skulls, masks, animals and aliens. Others will love the works with snarky phrases like, "I'm sorry I just can't listen to any more Kate Bush right now." Many will fall for the abstract pattern paintings and prints. And be assured that while the aesthetic is alt-culture, the work is consummately professional. The paintings are crisp beauties, the prints are finely registered, and the drawings and collages are sophisticated and done well.
Wright's works get more certain of themselves each year. That may be ironic for someone whose work is borderline scatological and always youthful. Statements like, "And on that day Rainbow Brite became a woman" make Wright, 36, a contemporary Dada practitioner to contend with.
One of the founders of Space 1026, Wright is a Philadelphia imagist. With fellow Space 1026ers Ben Woodward and Thom Lessner, the three constitute a brotherhood of sorts that's not so far in subject matter and human-centric focus from that of Chicagoans Roger Brown, Jim Nutt, Ray Yoshida and Ed Paschke.
Photographer Adam Wallacavage, also a Space 1026er and a longtime collaborator with Wright, is showing documentary photographs in Spector's rear gallery. Wallacavage is a scene photographer and, whether staged or on the fly, his photographs have an inviting intimacy. A book of small photos shows the 15-year collaboration between the photographer and Wright, who's seen posing in setups that are wonderful fashion magazine parodies.