When artists choose artists

Installation view of works by Suzanne Anker at Artists Choose Artists, Parrish Art Museum.

When artists choose artists


“There’s lots of talent out there that I didn’t know about,” said Donald Lipski, echoing the very goal set by Terri Sultan for this exhibition. “My hope was that the artists I chose—Suzanne Anker and Ben Butler—would have work that was very different from mine, but that somehow complimented what I do,” Lipski explained. “I hoped we would be exhibited in the same room, in proximity, where those connections would emerge.”

Lipski got his wish. A serial accumulator, his works consistently combine formalist and minimalist concerns with narrative, and an egalitarian love of the commonplace. New Seascape Porn (2016), created for this exhibition, consists of an aluminum canoe with equal-sized holes drilled throughout its hull, each hole stuffed with a rolled-up copy of the New York Times. “Cutting holes in a boat is provocative, then magic happened when I put the newspaper in them,” he says. There is an obvious sexual visual pun to the work but, as Lipski points out, his sculpture triggers multiple associations: “My wife Terri thought of people fleeing North Africa on fragile boats [. . .] never my thought, but I love the metaphors that come to mind.”

At first blush it’s difficult to see the relationship between Lipski’s canoe and the diminutive works of bio artist Suzanne Anker, and Ben Butler’s architectonic sculpture. But seek and you’ll find it in the way each artist combines disparate materials in unexpected ways. Lipski notes how “Suzanne Anker mines a unique field where biology and visual art intersect; the work takes lots of different directions, is visually rich and gives a jolt of color to the room. I thought her allusion to biology might add another layer on to how people would respond to both my work and Ben’s.”

Anker takes photographs of biomaterials and man-made objects set in Petri dishes, and then feeds those images to a 3D printer. The printer scans the images and prints them one layer at a time in a material consisting of plaster, resin, and pigment. The resulting mini-bio-sculptures are set in Petri dishes like fossilized biologic forms. For Remote Sensing (2016), twenty such sculptures are displayed alongside Vanitas (in a Petri dish) (2013), their twenty related inkjet prints.

“I liked the fact that Ben Butler is a young artist,” says Lipski. “This show is an opportunity for him.” Drawn to Butler’s imposing sculpture Elegy to the Disappearance of Objects (2015) for its process, Lipski explains how this artist starts with a little squiggle of form and then generates hundreds of them from a template: “From simple things—wood, concrete, foam block, a slender wood armature—and a fertile imagination and lots of courage, he does so many things.”

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When artists choose artists

The Brooklyn Rail

December 6, 2016