• 210 Eleventh Ave
    Second Floor

    New York, NY 10001
    Chelsea, Midtown West
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    3.5 star rating
    30 reviews
    1.5 Miles away from Kent Fine Art LLC

    Melissa M. said "I don't get the negative reviews AT ALL. I'm a 30D/32C and I can't shop (nor would I want to) at VS. I was so pleased to…" read more

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  • 5.0 star rating
    1 check-in First to Review
    Listed in Culture Vultures

    For the most part the Pablo Helguera exhibition at Kent Fine Art doesn't look like a regular gallery exhibit--but what it does look like is hard to say. Does it look like a bookstore or a personal library or what? The first thing I noticed upon entering was the plain, industrial-looking metal shelves (bookstore) with colorful hand-lettered signs indicating the genre/category of the books on them (cute bookstore) but as I moved through I noticed these nice mid-century modernist chairs, the low (in terms of both height and intensity) lighting of vintage table lamps, and faded black-and-white photos on the wall--all domestic touches pointing to "personal library." Is this supposed to represent a public space or a private one, I wondered, and can I even say it's "representing" either or is it just _being_ them? after all, it seemed like the books were there for reading, maybe for buying (but they were all in Spanish, so not really for me). As I got to the end of the gallery, still thinking about whether this was one thing or the other or both, I was caught totally off-guard by a third element--the way one wall of bookshelves ended and opened onto a gallery that looked more like a standard art show--framed prints hanging on a white wall, lots of empty space illuminated by natural light coming in a window. Here we have Pablo Helguera's lecture on "The Art of the Future"--printed on sturdy cards, arranged on three shelves, interspersed with cards printed with plates from a 1969 book, "Art of the Future," to which the title of Helguera's lecture/work referred. And though it was purportedly about the future, the lecture really talked about the past--Helguera's own childhood and youth, when he encountered the book in translation, "El Arte del Futuro," in his home city in Mexico and learned about contemporary trends in American art--conceptual art, land art, and computer art, and became very excited about it. Eventually the lecture arrives at a rather grim conclusion that we live in a time of no future, when the future doesn't matter, when all artists are concerned with their own work in the present. So, like with the installation of books, here too there was this tension between public and private, an attempt to make a statement about general trends in the public sphere of art that ends up circling back into a reflection on personal experiences, but then is presenting as a lecture (or installation)--a transmission of a private life into public space, via the gallery. (On the opposite wall hung framed prints in a grid, black-and-white photographs of what looked like an archaeological site in Mexico--I think. I tried to read and comprehend the prints a few times but for some reason I quickly felt tired out trying to understand it and kept giving up and still am not sure what was going on there.)

    On the way out I stopped at the front desk to talk to the very friendly receptionist a bit about the show and I noticed there were flyers that could be taken and exchanged for a free book! I headed for the "Artes" section and found one about cybernetics in art from the 60s--I won't read it (or maybe I'll try to find the English original, I'm pretty sure it's a translation) but because of the timing of its publication and its thematics, as well as its handsome modern design, it seemed like a great memento to take away from this intriguing exhibition.

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