Saturday, September 14, 2013

Anne Ferrer's Kandy-Kolored Confections

Robert Boyd

Anne Ferrer, Unicorn Pink, Pink and Pink Strip, ripstop fabric, 2013

This giant pink confection is what you see when you walk into Gallery Longnecker. You see superbright pink colors, a whipped-cream-like form, and a soft semi-inflated lack of solidity. This object is actually three sculptures by Anne Ferrer kind of stacked on top of one another. Pull the plugs on them and they'll deflate.

This is art for your sweet-tooth. These are empty calories. Your mind won't be terribly taxed looking at these works of art. They remind me a bit of Sharon Engelstein's inflatable sculptures, but Engelstein's intersecting geometries feel much more enigmatic than Ferrer's giant merengues.

Anne Ferrer, Swirl Trench Coat, 12 v fan on a timer, 2013

These pieces are inflated using fans--the description says the fan is on a timer, so one can expect the pieces to periodically deflate. Unlike Engelstein's inflatables, the fans don't fully inflate Ferrer's objects. They droop a little and lack firmness. Many of them, like Swirl Trench Coat, incorporate striped conical shapes that might remind one of emergency roadwork markers, but seem more like festive banners.

Anne Ferrer, Pink Dots Trench Coat, 12 v fan on a timer, 2013

I like them. I used the metaphor of empty calories. Obviously empty calories are bad for you to eat (as anyone who knows me can deduce). But are they bad to see? My feeling is probably not. I like to be engaged by a work, but if a work pleases me but has no greater resonance, it would be an act of puritanical self-abnegation to look away. Ferrer's inflatable coats and objects are fun, silly, likable works.

Anne Ferrer, Raincoat Tongue, 12 v fan on a timer, 2013

Not all of them are completely successful. Raincoat Tongue, by literally depicting lips, teeth and tongue, crosses into the realm of Pop, recalling the famous Rolling Stones logo --and the infamous performance at the VMA by Miley Cyrus. But the thing about Pop is that the artworks competed in a way with the pop-culture images depicted. And the best Pop art wins this competition--but Raincoat Tongue feels like a pale reflection of Mick Jagger's lips or Miley Cyrus's tongue.

Anne Ferrer, Rain Flower, 12 v fan on a timer, 2013

That's why I prefer the more abstract pieces, although even in their abstraction, they are meant to recall real things--like a flower in Rain Flower. Flowers are a good comparison. They're often garish and meaningless but beautiful. The best flower you get is one you get for no reason at all.

Anne Ferrer, Blood and Gold and Red ripstop fabric, 2013

Anne Ferrer, Blood and Gold and Red ripstop fabric, 2013

When I look at Blood and Gold and Red, I think of circus tents. And more generally, I feel like I am in a festive environment. I think of Candyland (not to mention California Gurls); it's bubblegum art, kandy-kolored confections of pleasure. If you want tortured art, go see the Wols retrospective at the Menil. It's excellent and will reward multiple viewings. But if you want some pure visual hedonism, check out Anne Ferrer.


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