The Enchanted Afterlives of Thrift Store Finds


CHICAGO — The make a difference-of-truth title of Melissa Brown’s solo presentation at Andrew Rafacz in Chicago, Thrift Retail store Come across, belies the complexity she attracts from the specific electricity of the secondhand in United States tradition: Utilized objects carry with them their personal inscrutable histories. At the very same time, they provide as blank slates, reflecting human desires and associations and having on clean meanings in every new location. Throughout eight new paintings and an “exhibition within the exhibition,” all of which aspect observed and thrifted goods, the New York-primarily based artist creates a environment that is animated, it’s possible even enchanted, by the multivalence of these issues.

Brown’s continue to lifestyle paintings are in simple fact dynamic tableaux whose topics are imbued with an normally uncanny feeling of vitality. Seem intently and you will observe that the tissue in “Waiting Room” (all paintings 2022) is as clear as the ribbon of vapor wafting out of the diffuser future to it. The jumpy keyboard in “Player’s Table” appears poised to lose some of its keys to Lake Michigan, outside the house the window. A breeze gently stirs a shimmering cellular in “Windspinner,” and light appears to collapse into a vortex at the centre of the trippy “Stopped Time at Lake Shrine.” Eggs, houseplants, water, many vessels — these all suggest everyday living and expansion. Yet references to mortality — a burning candle, a clock, a figurine of Anubis, the Egyptian god of death — also inhabit the compositions. To browse any of these just as symbolic, even though, would flatten the loaded interaction in between the objects’ legibility and illegibility, their past life and possible futures.

Melissa Brown, “Stopped Time at Lake Shrine” (2022), flashe, oil, acrylic on Dibond 36 x 26 inches (graphic courtesy the artist)

Two extra paintings are layered trompe-l’oeil renderings of identified artworks. In “Recollections,” a tag painted near the bottom notes that the piece is a “Vintage Needle Issue Collage,” whilst “Smoking Sailor” characteristics an archetypal naval determine, bearded and sporting a rumpled hat and raincoat, gazing into the length. These operates, in individual, showcase how the textures of Brown’s many procedures, like stencil, airbrush, screen-printed electronic pictures, and impasto, develop both spatial and conceptual depth. Segments of the picture seem to arrive in and out of aim, almost as if a number of registers of time are noticeable simultaneously. 

Presented alongside Brown’s canvases is a two-wall installation of precise thrift retail store finds, which run the gamut from a decoy duck to a Darth Vader belt buckle, from a gray wig to a black plastic magazine file, together with an array of vintage glassware and kitschy ceramics. These items have been contributed by 29 Chicago-region artists as component of a poker event arranged by Brown just prior to the exhibition’s opening. Every single invited participant purchased into the game with a person of the objects, so the display screen here represents the general pot, gained by one particular of the artists, as nicely as a nexus of this local network. The collaborative gesture introduces another dimension to the exhibition: that of circulation and trade, of the embodied and interconnected human associations that facilitate the flows of objects, and their important job in (re)generating the new.  

Installation look at of Melissa Brown: Thrift Shop Locate at Andrew Rafacz Gallery, Chicago (image courtesy Ian Vecchiotti and Andrew Rafacz)

Melissa Brown: Thrift Retail store Locate carries on at Andrew Rafacz Gallery (1749 West Chicago Avenue, Chicago, Illinois) by means of July 16. The exhibition was arranged by the gallery.


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