Saturday, June 7, 2008

Lael Corbin's REMODEL packs 'em in!

"Amazing" and "brilliant" sometimes sound like clichés and certainly among the most overused of adjectives, but in the case of Corbin--and specifically this new body of work--it barely comes close to describing the full experience of this phenomenal artist and exhibition. I haven't seen so many heads turn and mouths open since Leigh Bowery showed up with Boy George one Halloween night at the Sound Factory with his big bald head poking out of a toilet seat. Except this was a way classier affair. With Remodel, Lael Corbin has proven he's earned his chops as possibly the singularly most talented young artist in San Diego today. Some people may argue this point, but, let me tell you--I've seen a lot of art in the last 20+ years and instinctly know when someone 'has it'--and this young artist stands shoulder to shoulder with the best of them. His type doesn't come around very often and I am convinced that he is on his way to becoming a big deal. I really wish that everyone in New York and Los Angeles could see this show. This is what I am talking about--the seminal experience--being inside a point in time that marks a revolution, an adjustment of the status quo, of the same ho-hum crap that too often passes for art these days. Ok, I'll get off my pedestal... Here's Brian Dick, fighting for the spotlight with "Glue Bear" at the top of "Untitled (Stairs/Bear Den)" installation (guess who's going to win this one?) ...and Lucia Sanroman, assistant curator at MCASD, staring lovingly at a 2x4. Her "I am so jealous!" made my night. Thank you, Lucia!


Anonymous said...

I visited the opening last night and it was really an experience. I can't say I have ever seen anything like this in San Diego. I will return with some friends and I can't wait to see their reactions. Keep up the good work.

Kevin Freitas said...

A few "off the cuff" comments for now, that hopefully, I'll revisit later, but first, yes Luis, you and Lael should be both very proud of this show. The time, energy, thought, and obvious physical work put into it, is apparent. And while I am in agreement with a majority of what you've said, there are a few statements that caught my attention.

Notably, about the desire to have those living in LA and NY - artistic poles of two very different sensibilities - come check out the exhibit. I understand your enthusiasm; San Diego's artistic community is growing everyday, thanks to artists like Lael and galleries like yours, however, to use a basketball metaphor, "the bench" isn't quite as deep here as it is in LA and NY. The point is, while what Lael did is amazing, it is partially amazing due to the fact that it exists in the context of San Diego. A city focused on its tourist & sport industry as opposed to the cultural one.

The orginality or inventiveness of Lael's installation is not new, unique yes, but can referenced to similar installations past & present in galleries and museums from LA to NY. Take for example, the Dawn Gallery in NY, 1968 and the exhibit Earthworks. While other artists - Smithson, Walter de Maria, Jannis Kounellis etc. and other movements like Land Art and Arte Povera can also be called to mind, the stakes are much higher in 2008 for work of this caliber to remain strong, as well as, contextually and conceptually fresh.

Part of the problem, I believe, in keeping that freshness alive is how a work like Lael's is read and interpreted. Part of this responsibility lies with galleries. Meaning, in the past where a gallery was a conduit for "avant garde" work and a receptor for an artist's experimentation, the gallery today is just an empty vessel that we put things inside - having lost its vision and purpose to commercial aspirations and the catch-all/save-all Duchampian reflex that anything is art, or should be considered as such, or is, simply because its creator said it was. I'm over simplfying, but the gallery of today, has succumbed to the art establishment you're trying to circumvent with an exhibit like Lael's. Whether Lael's work succeeds is another discussion, but it should also be looked at on its merits and how relevent it is today, and not necessairaly for its apparent "never before seen" power that, for the most part, it tries to possess.

Finally, Lucia Sanroman IS the art establishment and is probably someone that you do want a blessing from. The real question is, whether she is a Disciple or God herself. That the MCA has an obligation to show work by artists like Lael is obvious. That they should, is smart, healthy and necessary for the longevity of San Diego's art community. That they will, depends on their art establishment - unfortunately.

Lael has set the bar high, I hope others can reach it.

Kevin Freitas