Johan Creten Galerie Perrotin / New York

October 20, 2015

Outside Galerie Perrotin, an unlikely element of Johan Creten’s exhibition was exposed high above Madison Avenue. As many galleries do, Perrotin created a banner advertising the exhibition to the public.

Where this banner differed from others preceding it is that it was censored due to the word “God” in the title. The exhibition name read “Johan Creten >blank space< is a Stranger”: exposure via concealment.

In his first US exhibition in many years, Paris-based Flemish sculptor Johan Creten took the opportunity to shine, metaphorically and literally. On the main floor of the gallery, a series of sculptures — both freestanding and wall-hung — fabricate an aesthetic narrative in tones of black and gold. Each sculpture varies in materials ranging from patinated or gold leaf–covered bronze to glazed stoneware with gold luster. The installation, visually minimal yet rich in its elegance grasp of form and space, allows each work the power of breath.

On first glance the sculptures appear quite different. But over time, three common human themes become decipherable: love, money and sexuality. Is it in the midst of all three that one finds God? Or is it in their absence? Creten uses imagery that is almost holy yet also brimming with sexuality. Such is the case with New York Glory 5 La Trinité (2015), a horizontal, egg-like shape with intricate details on a raised surface featuring three concave, spherical forms. This piece might be likened to barnacles covered in gold, a celebration of the interior of a Renaissance cupola, or, as the artist hints, three anuses, glorified. With perceptual risk, Creten succeeds in taking the viewer along on a very relatable journey. Because whether it is his Odore di Femmina series (ongoing 2015) or Fireworks The Red Flares (2014/2015), the artist manages a balance of celebration and subtlety.

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