Nathan Green at Art Palace

In the so-wrong-it’s-right fluorescent pallor of Art Palace hang Nathan Green’s latest paintings. It’s important not to misread “latest” here as “new and shiny,” as they are in fact a sly mixture of clunkiness and exacting craft. Green’s materials vary widely, from fuzzy orange pom-poms and beige carpet squares to sculpted rock-like forms in saturated hues.

Specimens (Back to Nature) Carpet samples, plastic hangers, wood, hardware 45" x 34"

Specimens (Back to Nature). Carpet samples, plastic hangers, wood, hardware, 45″ x 34″

There is an uncanny familiarity to these pieces. It’s akin to that moment in a sceney restaurant when you hear the fifth song that is also on your iPad and you realize…oh, they’re marketing to me. The “found” objects here are almost aggressively plebeian. Plastic clothes hangers on Specimens are in a variety of fleshy hues. Their pairing with various low-pile polyester carpet swatches underscores their “suburbanity.”

Golden Hour Spray expanding foam, paper mache, drywall texture, acrylic, wood 80" x 80"

Golden Hour. Spray expanding foam, paper maché, drywall texture, acrylic, wood, 80″ x 80″

Green’s work is most joyful when he amps up the scale to jumbo proportions. Golden Hour balances Nauman-esque awkwardness with slender stained wood. Each bright and blobby oversized form fits tightly into its own niche, like Fred Flintstone’s rock collection. The goofy earnestness of these objects is endearing. This may have been the intention in the “found” works as well, but they come off with a whiff of self-conscious irony. This too-cool-for-school vibe can be sensed in Open Skies, a wooden assemblage of cabinet doors and knobs. The design here is smart and formal, which only emphasizes the quaintness of the domestic materials. Duchamp’s famous urinal was supposedly a “non-aesthetic” choice, but these everyday objects are overly specific. They are the accoutrements of Saturday morning cartoons and .25 acres, yet somehow not at all nostalgic.

Snow Angel (Grape) Wood, enamel, resin 40" x 30"

Snow Angel (Grape). Wood, enamel, resin, 40″ x 30″

also by Casey Gregory

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4 responses to “Nathan Green at Art Palace”

  1. This is the second article I read by the author. Very affected way of writing, trying way too hard.

  2. I know Carl, I like some of the others who don’t seem to try at all. (Gtire we love ya)

  3. Even before I’m to the end of the first sentence I can’t tell what the writer is trying to say… Are fluorescent gallery lights bad?? Or cool?? Or are you saying that they are cool but secretly you think they’re stupid? I don’t get it. The rest of the review follows in that same weird suspended “I’m not gonna take a stance” mode. I have no idea what yr talking about.

  4. I like the writing. It’s ambivalence suits the same quality in the work. The show begs the old question: What makes this art? By what standards or ideas can one judge art that is made of blandly presented hangars and carpet squares?

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