On ViewPutty’s Coronation
June 12 – September 2, 2021
ABERRATION is the current solo exhibition of works by Eamon DeFabbia-Kane at the Putty’s Coronation project space, the nomadic gallery’s first exhibition and solo presentation in this particular address.
In the center of a brightly lit room, equipped with a skylight and shiny wooden floors previously used for dance classes, one encounters an oversized, pasty pink, hanging structure. Old-looking wall jigs jumble themselves into a giant mutated chandelier strung on a thick metal chain. The piece hangs low enough for a person’s upper half to be hidden in between its crevices. The chain’s long tail is embedded into the structure, caked into the forms like a boot stuck in sludge. On the floor under and around the centerpiece, three strips of lined wall moldings lay looped onto themselves, like gutted, deflated tires, made from the same heavy pink material.
These architectural ribs, transformed and clumped together, echo the space building elements that usually give a place its cultural prestige or economic significance. Placed in Brooklyn’s Bedford–Stuyvesant neighborhood, it is instead reminiscent of prewar buildings, with creamy lobbies that once flaunted Victorian features softened and obscured with dozens of paint layers over the years. Here, in DeFabbia-Kane’s installation, the objects and the space merge into one gooey, cohesive material, repeating itself throughout the exhibition in its light pink flesh. The chandelier forms were traced by the artist in New Jersey’s Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center Artist Residency, which originated as a 1970s fake Victorian village. Their size suggests that they were enlarged by the artist, making them feel like a marriage between a chandelier and structural wooden beams.
Bondo, the material making these bulky shapes, is an auto-body filler that’s used for injured surfaces on vehicles. It sticks to a readied surface and takes its formal cues from the body of the machine it is used on. Here, it almost acts alone. The floor strips are purely Bondo—pink and purple and slimy—their recognizable patterns made in molds that force the material into the lined strips of architectural molding. Their other sides reveal messy brushstrokes and fingerprints that pushed the stubborn material into place, left bare by the artist as if to undo the tidy form on the other side that was so painstakingly achieved. Bondo does not like being handled for too long; it thickens within 10 minutes of use. And its curing process is apparent in the works, fusing the becoming of the shapes and the becoming of the material into one singular process.
On the walls around the monster centerpiece, the artist has hung small mixed-media drawings that increase in number through the exhibition’s run. These 26-by-20-inch works on paper seem to bear only a couple of Bondo layers spackled onto the surface. The mark-making falls between a geometric color block and a wispy stroke. Underneath them one can make out a light pencil outline that likely guided the drawing, making the wall works feel like filled-in abstracted floorplans.
The one wall sculpture in the space is a long and narrow, rounded wooden frame, tilted vertically towards the wall. Inside is a sliver of floral wallpaper in the same now-getting-sickly color as the Bondo over a white background. Behind it is a long layer of Bondo peel, crumpled between the frame and the wall. The floral pattern was a secondhand eBay find. It is the work that offers the most formal sharpness in the exhibition, though the wallpaper is barely given enough room to make out full floral shapes, perhaps to limit the air coming in from this narrow window out of the saturated domain.
The works in ABERRATION seem to insist on a particular mantra. Made from an all-encompassing paste, they hint to the space-making muscles that differentiate the walls, the ceilings, the floors. Now almost caving into themselves and sharing the same material, the spatial alphabet turns into an abstracted, insistent hum.