» New York – Jessi Reaves: “At the Well” at Bridget Donahue Through November 19th, 2022

Jessi Reaves, Bad Apartment SHelf (2022), via Bridget Donahue
Jessi Reaves, Bad Apartment Shelf (2022), via Bridget Donahue

On view currently at New York space Bridget Donahue, artist Jessi Reaves has returned to the gallery with a new body of works that continue and expand her uniquely inventive turn on sculpture, drawing on shared languages of design, interior space, domestic languages and the possibilities of these elements to work in tandem, here taking shape in a series of floor sculptures and hanging works, investigating and reposing questions of varied histories of making, and how they ultimately converge, twist, and reform.

Jessi Reaves, At the Well (Installation View), via Bridget Donahue
Jessi Reaves, At the Well (Installation View), via Bridget Donahue

Reaves’ works are wildly constructed, drawing on plywood, sawdust, foam, wood, car parts and plexiglass, often complemented with finishing touches like silk, leather, zippered covers and glass. They are, to some degree, an unassuming set of elements, applying found materials and pieces in conjunction with her own sculptural embellishments. Irrational and imperfect, their human scale and materials reference historical and archetypal forms, their compiled pieces and parts unifying in a grand operation that mixes together varied concepts and histories of both labor and design.

Jessi Reaves, At the Well (Installation View), via Bridget Donahue
Jessi Reaves, At the Well (Installation View), via Bridget Donahue


For this most recent show, Reaves extends that notion across a range of works utilizing wood glue and other materials that fuse together the structure and its contingent parts, flecks of glue, paint, and other materials that serve as much as gestural marks as they do pieces in the final construction of the work. Reaves replaces stylistic details one might otherwise associate with craft, such as carving, inlay, exotic wood grain, joinery or tufting, with her own methods and flourishes, pulling together a range of ideas into a shared space. Drawing on different skills and concepts utilized by craftsmen in the production of furniture and other hand-built goods, Reaves’s work approaches the object as the summation of its historical notes. In one corner, a cabinet structure bears a series of cartoon mascots, both referencing a sort of working class analog to the high-art context in which the piece is exhibited, and simultaneously providing an aesthetic embellishment that pushes the work into new zones.

Jessi Reaves, A Sample of the Truth (2022), via Bridget Donahue
Jessi Reaves, A Sample of the Truth (2022), via Bridget Donahue

Yet what’s most intriguing here is the notions of autobiography and personality that the artist welcomes into the works. Parts of her car and other elements that allude to a life lived beyond the work only tie these elements ever closer to a sense of distended domesticity. While Reaves twists the domestic into the surreal, the act, and appreciation of these spaces, remains grounded, opening up broad new dialogues.

The show closes November 19th.

– C. Reinhardt

Read more:
Jessi Reaves at Bridget Donahue [Exhibition Site]


on Thursday, October 27th, 2022 at 12:00 pm and is filed under Art News, Featured Post, Show.
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