Appropriately titled, UN related: A Giant Cap Gun and White Discs on view at Museum Gallery Gallery Museum features the work of Australia native Waseem Touma and the Lexington, Kentucky based pseudonymous corporate organization Dronex Inc. In addition to being formally and materially dissimilar, the works of Waseem Touma and Dronex Inc. are conceptually miles apart.
Dronex Inc.’s contributions provide the viewer a wide array of objects to engage with. The pieces range from the two dimensional to the sculptural, to plain old merchandise (tee shirts for sale). As a send up of a hierarchical corporate entity, the conglomeration of “products” for sale are effective and Dronex Inc.’s selected imagery (bees, chickens, and ‘drones’) all underscore the point. But one can’t help feeling that with his two dimensional work in particular, “the point” is the point. It’s clever, no doubt, but clever only goes so far.
Far superior to Dronex Inc.’s flags with barcode stripes, or pop takes on domesticated fowl are his sculptural endeavors. One is literally (figuratively) blown away (sorry) by the ridiculous scale of Lovegun a giant snub nosed revolver, and Bad Bacon an enormous piggy bank. These bright, absurdist takes on the crassness of American culture are too good to resist. Crafted with precision (out of wood fragments) Lovegun and Bad Bacon succeed where other pieces fail not only because of their arresting formal beauty, but because their meaning comes from within rather than without. The preposterous nature of a man-sized neon green pistol or a huge piggy bank with sunglasses is rivaled only by our equally preposterous cultural fascination with guns and money. These works are the zeitgeist, whereas Dronex Inc.’s wall images sometimes read as products of it.
On the other end of the spectrum, Waseem Touma’s quite embrace of a single object, a porcelain disc, evolves into a multiplicity of free sculpture, installation, and bas-relief. Evocative of the human spine, Touma’s pieces translate as a meditation on a formative event. By keeping color restrained (all of the works are either white, red, black, or a combination thereof) his sculptures emphasize proportion, balance, and symmetry; pacific qualities that invite the viewer to pause and linger.
Touma’s ability to adapt a single figure repetitively and yet keep each work fresh and vital is a remarkable accomplishment. In a day and age where too many contemporary artists adopt intellectually suspect rationales to justify their creative output, the simplicity of Touma’s exploration of form is a welcome reprieve.
Singular among the smaller not for profit galleries, Museum Gallery Gallery Museum has no overt curatorial bent. Exhibitions never feel like an ex post facto declaration of the trend de jour or an illustration of whatever flimsy theory is currency among those in the know. While the exhibitions can be and frequently are inconsistent, the shows Museum Gallery Gallery Museum present are allowed to succeed or fail as art on their own terms. And in this respect, ‘UN Related‘ is definitively a success.
-Alan D Pocaro
UN Related: A Giant Cap Gun and White Discs on view through December 10 at Museum Gallery Gallery Museum. 1218 Sycamore St. Cincinnati, Ohio 45202. www.mg-gm.com
Pictured Top: Dronex Inc. Installation view featuring Lovegun. 2010. Wood. Courtesy of Museum Gallery Gallery Museum.
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