Gedi Sibony at Greene Naftali in New York
On view at Greene Naftali are twenty new works by the New York artist Gedi Sibony. The show begins with a small room of found, framed works, each reversed in its frame and hung on the wall, so as to only display its posterior side to viewers. Poetic yet elusive titles like Into a Ring of Doubles and Doric Ions conjure the possible imagery present but now hidden. Instead, viewers are confronted with the aged and discolored backing of each work, irregularly held in place with patches of tape. By purposefully obfuscating from our view the presence of what is now known but implied, Sibony creates a sly commentary on knowledge and assumptions, pointing to a strong conceptual element in his own practice, and priming visitors for works in a similar vein in the gallery’s main space. – Nadiah Fellah, NYC Contributor
Beyond the small room of framed works, the remainder of the gallery is entirely lit by the northeastern facing windows of Greene Naftali’s eighth floor space. This changes and dramatizes the experience of the sculptures depending on the time of day or weather. Indeed, the term ‘dramatize’ is an apt one—many of the free-standing sculptures in the show evoke similarities to stage props or backdrops, their found materials and crude constructions reminding one of alternative or guerrilla theater productions.
Gedi Sibony | Eight More Petals, 2013, Wood, foam core, cardboard, paper, tape, 97 x 44 x 18 inches. Image courtesy Greene Naftali.
Upon entering the main gallery, one encounters by a large, semi-circular structure, placed between two large columns. Titled The Porcelains, the structure appears as a stage might, centrally positioned, and providing a flat plane on which to stand. However, its pristinely white appearance, and title that equally references distance and fragility, betrays its lack of use, causing us to contemplate its latent possibilities.
Gedi Sibony | Ceaseless Episodes of Blossom, 2013, Carpet, primer, 98 x 73 ½ inches. Image courtesy Greene Naftali.
One of the several works that employs the backsides of large rugs—a method that falls in line with Sibony’s reversed prints also on view—is Ceaseless Episodes of Blossom. The large triptych is positioned behind the semi-circular ‘stage,’ as if a backdrop, and features a grid of four reoccurring emblems, each signifying one of the four seasons. The juxtaposition of a rigorous grid format combined with the randomness of the emblems’ repetition aligns the work with those like Alighiero Boetti and the Arte Povera movement in general, a connection that is also referred to in Sibony’s use of raw and found materials.
Another function of the large, obtrusive structure in the center of the gallery is that it forces visitors to move along the periphery of the space, whether or not they are aware of it. Thus it fits with Sibony’s declaration that he likes to “complicate space” with his sculptures, compelling viewers to inadvertently move in patterns or configurations that they might not otherwise within a gallery.
Gedi Sibony | Grants Every Gift, 2013, Carpet, toy Ferris wheel, 90 ¼ x 71 ¾ x 7 inches. Image courtesy Greene Naftali.
Similarly compelling such movement is a large carpet fragment titled Grants Every Gift, hung with its underside exposed, and lying unevenly against the wall. When one instinctively peeks around the side of the work to look for an obstruction, one sees a small toy Ferris wheel wedged between the rug’s surface and the wall, suspended at roughly eye level. This hidden and unexpected object is evidence of the wry humor present in much of the artist’s practice, and slyly gestures at his ability to “toy” with our assumptions and expectations.
Gedi Sibony was born in 1973, and is originally from New York, where he currently lives and works. He holds a BA from Brown and an MFA from Columbia University. Since 2000, his work has been exhibited widely in the US and Europe. His sculptures were included in the 2006 Whitney Biennial, and the 6th Berlin Biennale in 2008.
Gedi Sibony is on view at Greene Naftali Gallery in New York through June 15th.
Nadiah Fellah is a graduate student of Art History at The Graduate Center, CUNY in New York.