Adrian Ghenie Takes On "The Brave New World" @ Pace Gallery, NYC
One of the things that makes Adrian Ghenie's major solo show, The Brave New World so bold and chaotic, is in the title itself. When Pace Gallery planned this show, probably over a year ago, the idea that Ghenie would be titling a show inspired by Aldous Huxley's dystopian vision would have seen apt. Social media, the dangling "joys" of capitalism thrown into our face in hyperspeed and now more invasive than ever before, harken to the hallmarks of Huxley's world of pleasure in order to create social compliance and order. And Ghenie, now showing in one of the transitional moments in the world, a major two wars being fought, the sort of vantage point we all have watching it via our phones, seems perfectly fit. His work is chaotic, frantic, reflective, investigative, looking at the human condition when it comes to the idea of watching.
Phones, galleries, televisions, protest, activism are all tangled together in Ghenie's show, and there feels like a common conversation going on between the viewer and the paintings themselves: we are watching the watchers, viewing how we view, wondering what it is we are doing as we act out and act up. These are paintings that challenge us to look at what we are doing to each other and how our devices and attempts at pleasure have turned us into a mass of energy and angst, anxious and waiting. There is one brilliant work, of two protestors who have vandalized a master work in a museum, with a glimpse of a "Stop Oil" placards in their grasp, and it feels like both an answer and an irony, we in a blue chip gallery looking at the idea of putting activisim ahead of contemporary art. Pleasure and pain, desire and destting, all in one work. Quite powerful. —Evan Pricco