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Jonathan Berger
Adams and Ollman, Portland, Oregon
Recommendation by Richard Speer

Jonathan Berger, "Untitled (Century Tree)" (detail), 2016, tin, charcoal, 51 x 12 x 12". Photo Credit: Evan La Londe. Courtesy of the artist, Adams and Ollman and JTT

Continuing through March 12, 2016

With his exhibition “A Future Life,” New York-based artist Jonathan Berger has turned the prototypical “white cube” gallery into a black cube. By painting the gallery walls black and tiling the floor with nearly 90,000 cube-shaped charcoal briquettes — which also form the pedestals for his art objects — he has created an eerie, glowering space more immersive than any show seen here in recent years.

In this environment he places several untitled objects, among them a 25-inch-diameter sphere sculpted from gray putty; a miniature chain-mail house that appears to have been flattened by a tornado; and a reproduction (in found tin) of a desert botanical known as the Century Plant, which blooms but once in its long lifespan and then dies. All the objects readily allude to the darker aspects of human experience, and indeed the artist considers the exhibition a mode of symbolic self-portraiture. While the installation’s chromatically and thematically oppresive gestalt is far from redemptive, its formal properties provide aesthetic redemption — cold consolation for life’s existential quandaries, but a salve nonetheless.

Adams and Ollman

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