Jacob Kassay, Robert Morris, and Virginia Overton

MITCHELL-INNES & NASH | CHELSEA
534 West 26th Street
December 16, 2010–January 29, 2011

View of “Jacob Kassay, Robert Morris, Virginia Overton,” 2010. Foreground: Virginia Overton, Untitled (Triangle), 2010. Background, from left: Robert Morris, Untitled (White Felt), 1976–2008; Virginia Overton, Untitled, 2010; Robert Morris, Untitled, 1976.

Three American artists from different generations strike a similar (if muted) chord in this exhibition, which brings together two wall-bound felt sculptures from the mid-1970s by Robert Morris (b. 1931) with several 2010 works by Virginia Overton (b. 1971) and by Jacob Kassay (b. 1984). The show suggests that the younger crew is well versed in Morris’s seminal essays from the 1960s on post-Minimalism, but that they identify with this history to rework it, performing a “temporal drag,” to borrow an idea from Elizabeth Freeman, by bluntly pulling the past into the present, thus underlining how time might not always move seamlessly ahead––and, more important, how it can be punctured.

Behind the massive, site-specific wooden triangle that Overton has lodged between two of the gallery’s large pillars, her plank covered in globs of white sheetrock mud appears to be the love child of Richard Serra’s props and Lynda Benglis’s pours. Continuing the in joke, a few of Overton’s Dan Flavin–esque fluorescent tubes are installed high up on two walls, hugging the corner. These striking works, which similarly appeared in her New York debut last spring at Dispatch, are affectionately (and fanatically) wrapped in images of Overton’s own curly golden locks.

Kassay’s paintings also tender notions of the artist’s self, via methods that reveal his process, but his best pieces play with elements of chance. While a few shaped monochromes evoke Robert Ryman and Ellsworth Kelly, the murky surface of one small canvas encrusted with silver deposits subtly shifts with the natural changes of light in the gallery. The senior artist, whose pivotal thoughts likewise slowly emerge here, will celebrate a birthday a few days after the show concludes. Happy eightieth, Robert Morris!

— Lauren O’Neill-Butler