September 15 – October 22, 2011
The Andrew Kreps Gallery is pleased to present Triscuit Obfuscation, Melee’s sixth solo exhibition at the gallery. For this exhibition, the artist has created three discreet environments: Passage, Parlor and Stairs. Each space channels and explores the distinct yet inter-related psychologies of the domestic, classic, modern, and voyeuristic – each distilled through painting, video and sculpture.
The viewer enters the exhibit through Passage. A dark and narrow hallway, Passage is inhabited by three video works presenting different voyeuristic positions of the artist: witness, spectator and director. In each of the works the viewer is implicated into the action of the videos by being cast into the role of spectator or witness, resulting in an overall sense of isolation.
The second environment, entitled Parlor is accessed through a crawl space. In Parlor, the viewer is presented with a generic domestic palette of beige framing three sculptural works. Melee marries the classical and the modern with Rite of Spring Mattress Unit – a new sculpture, which combines videos and photographic stills. In Stravinsky's score we hear irregular rhythms and musical instruments stretched to the limit of their capacity. Inspired by Stravinsky's classic masterpiece, Melee's new characters levitate and travel through the changing of seasons. Some end their lives, while others exaggeratedly perform chores within a banal household.
Also in Parlor, a new figurative sculpture Clock Her probes the common household object with ancient sculpture. A classically posed mannequin smothered and tied in canvas, dripping with enamel atop an aggressively deconstructed generic household object (grandfather clock), Melee redefines the psychological and classical aspects of sculpture by contrasting the exaggerated and dramatic with the quotidian.
In the third and final space, the viewer is confronted with Stairs, a monumental sculpture that mirrors those in the childhood home of the artist – only now, elongated - similar to stadium seating. On the stairs themselves, Melee has installed marbleized panels on the risers, which combine to create a large marbleized painting – Melee's signature plastic and ridiculous interpretation of classic marble. Facing Stairs is Process Unit, a video/sculpture that explores Melee's process as an artist. One of the video plays with the fetishistic act of "Sploshing" (pouring food on a partner for pleasure) by pouring plaster and enamel to create shiny, lubricated, and deformed surfaces. The act of pouring paint instead of food parallels the bridge between high and low in popular culture. Another video references one on the artists obsessively-made monstrous mobile sculptures – a human is swallowed by a confusing kitsch explosion of celebratory decorations which ultimately performs and comes to life.
This collection of new videos featured in Triscuit Obfuscation blends fiction and non-fiction while embracing a more ambiguous role. Like Melee's figurative sculptures, these new video characters are completely obscure (heads/faces hidden with a variety of dubious materials) in contrast to his earlier works, which were populated solely by Melee’s close friends and his mother. Whether taken from real life or elaborately invented, these personalities are always driven by unrest in the human psyche.
With this exhibition Melee is exploring a new direction – bridging his previous work with a newfangled sensibility. Taken together, these interior spaces and the works therein are the culmination of Melee’s ongoing project of combining disparate elements, architectures and mediums in the attempt to explore the psychologies of their fusions – domestic and gallery, figuration and abstraction, performance and stasis, and fiction and non-fiction.
Robert Melee has shown extensively in the United States at the David Kordansky Gallery in Los Angeles, The Sculpture Center, The New Museum, PS 1 in New York, and The Corcoran and Milwaukee Art Museums. His large-scale bronze sculptures have been shown at City Hall Park in New York. Melee has also exhibited Internationally with solo shows at White Cube and Sutton Lane in London, The Haifa Museum in Israel, and his work was also included in the Portugal Biennial.