Bottle caps, paintbrushes, and nails: Will Ryman

Will Ryman, of roses fame, had new work up at Paul Kasmin in Chelsea in a show that just ended. My first impression as I walked into the gallery of the large figure wrapping around the room was that it was like a large Buddha in a temple. However, this large plaster head doesn’t look nearly as serene, his blue t-shirt is surfaced with sneakers, and his glittering arms are made of bottle caps. Lots and lots of bottle caps. Everyman is like a Bart Simpson version of the Buddha.
Going under the statue’s head, the viewer walks into a new environment, a labyrinth created with high vertical stacks of paintbrushes. Like the shoes and bottle caps, there are some great textures being created here. I wish these environments came through better in photographs. The windings go nowhere in particular and turn you back around to the sleeping (dying?) figure in the next gallery.

Around the corner, a third new work by Ryman, one more suited the public display like his roses were, presides over Kasmin’s new exhibition space. Bird is made up of real and fabricated steel nails, some of them enormous.

I became more than a little fascinated by the size of the nails, and the hollow interior of the structure. The materials Ryman uses in all these installations never lose their original identity, the way the materials used by Tara Donovan do. Instead, their existence as bottle caps or paintbrushes or nails never gets lost even as through multiplication and shaping they take new, bigger forms.

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