Shin Gallery enchants and surprises with a motley collection
You may be wondering if you found a curio shop upon entering the Shin Gallery’s 10th Anniversary Exhibition. The exhibition traces the history of the gallery on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and the wild yet sly sensible tendencies of its eponymous collector, with nearly 100 objects filling three rooms.
The exhibition, aptly titled Amalgamation, creates groupings that are sometimes brilliantly intuitive, such as a drawing of a reclining female masturbation figure by Egon Schiele paired with a monoprint on a pillow by Tracey Emin (who exhibited her own disheveled bed at the Tate in 1999 ). in London). Elsewhere the connections are delightfully odd, as in Henry Moore’s sketch of huddled biomorphic fragments Ideas for Wood Sculpture (1932), which emerges between James Castle’s childlike composition of a figure in front of a house and Death of Meleager (c. 1720), in black chalk, ink and wash on cream laid paper. A baby bird drawing by Bill Traylor (1939) in pencil on cardboard seems to flee the scene, as the drawings that occupy the first space are largely hung frame after frame, placing masters alongside misfits.
As I walked through this first room, I began to notice fringe examples of big names intermingled with an eclectic selection of lesser-known names. Even when this is the case, as in Jackson Pollock’s untitled gestural ink on pink paper (1951) paired with a 1958 painting of the London Zoo chimpanzee Congo, it is the combination that unleashes both mischief and insight.
The second room continues this particular conversation with a painted three-seat latrine, possibly documenting Pollock’s only collaboration with Willem de Kooning in 1954, here attributed only to de Kooning. His widow, Elaine de Kooning, admitted it was a hoax painted before a croquet party in East Hampton.
On my first visit, in this second room, I found Hong Gyu Shin, who founded the gallery when he was 23 years old and still a student. The room here is set up like a simulation of his own cluttered bedroom, albeit much tidier, he told me.
Sculptures dominate among the stacks of old Artforum magazines, catalogs and monographs. In the center of the room is a display case containing Chris Burden’s Warship (1981). She is flanked by Hans Bellmer’s “La Poupée” (1935), a painted aluminum sculpture of a bisexual torso; Lygia Clark’s “Linear Bug” (1960) made of stainless steel, which looks like an oversized children’s folding puzzle; and an 1857 earthenware jug by the enslaved African-American potter David Drake, who has just returned from a Theaster Gates exhibition in London. Shin later pointed to the Man Ray Chess Set (1946) arranged mid-game, noting that it could be thought of as a collaboration between himself, Ray, and artist Richard Tuttle, who on a recent visit for a game sat.
Upon entering the third room, the viewer is enveloped in a cacophony of paintings hung from floor to ceiling in salon style. On my first visit it was almost too much to take in. It wasn’t until my second visit that I seemed to have two competing thoughts. On the one hand, I wondered if I had ever been in a room with so many ugly or aggressive paintings. On the other hand, this was the most exciting room with paintings I had seen in at least a year.
It was like inhaling smelling salts. Of Strange Figurative Works and Portraiture (by Joshua Johnson and Thomas Eakins, among others) to a “painting” of autumn leaves frozen in encaustic wax by Alan Sonfist. Two works of rotten Chartreuse scream from the walls, both by Beauford Delaney, elegantly hung apart. There are great works here too, like a series of untitled monotypes by Brazilian artist Mira Schendel from 1964. Directly below is that by Korean painter Hyon Gyon “Fire In My Brain” (2015), a revelation in acrylic, oil, charcoal and molten fabric. Fire in my brain, indeed, and it was just what I needed.
Amalgamation: We celebrate 10 years Shin Gallery
Until May 21 at the Shin Gallery, 322 Grand Street, Manhattan. 212-375-1735; shin-gallery.com.