Anthony Huberman, new chief curator of the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, orchestrated a subtle, poetic solo exhibition of work by New York-based Gedi Sibony to resonant effect. Consisting of mostly found construction-grade detritus — chunks of carpet, swaths of plastic drop cloth — lightly leaning and lying against one another, it was as much an exercise in reducing art to its barest forms as in extreme material economy. Sibony's distinctly unmonumental brand of sculpture/installation is the antithesis of most traditional fine-art practices, which privilege methodical and labor-intensive methods and mediums specific to art alone. And when common signifiers of fine art are removed, a whole new set of aesthetic relationships arises. Sibony's work retrains our eyes to see the modest beauty that resides in nearly everything — the way that a piece of tape can crinkle and peel off cardboard, say, or how one piece of carpet can stiffly curl and exert pressure on another curled piece of carpet. Sibony's minimalism is timely, reminding us that creativity can flourish under the starkest of financial circumstances. Huberman coupled Sibony with a small selection of early work by the canonical twentieth-century artist Bruce Nauman that explored clever plays on language and homemade versions of classic slapstick scenarios. The pairing lent a pragmatic wit to an otherwise Spartan and romantic exhibition — and seemed to suggest that great art is as fraught with failure, humiliation and humor as...well, as any life.
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