Pepo Salazar

1 rue Charles-François Dupuis, Building B, 2nd Floor
October 22–December 5

Pepo Salazar,
– zçrwaq ˇ’
mixed media, dimensions variable.

Punctuated by interruptions—synthetic iPhone and Skype jingles bleating from an amp in the corner, a metal bar planted just inside the gallery door assuring an awkward entrance, another bisecting the gallery horizontally at mid-torso—Pepo Salazar’s exhibition reproduces a distracted delirium we know all too well. Sure, there’s relaxing ukulele chords strumming from the video installation, Hashtag me please, #Zzz,zzz (excitotoxicity pro-performance cascade). Two yellow faces (all works 2015). But these abruptly break off into aggro ads and pop anthems, just like your favorite streaming service. The flatscreen that these beats emanate from is painted white except for a cloyingly cheery emoticon. Putting on a good face only goes so far.

The rest of the gallery is occupied by an installation whose multiline title is generated, the show’s poster seems to suggest, by the incidental keystrokes produced when wiping down a keyboard. In it, failures to maintain a proper appearance multiply: A molten-looking plastic suitcase carcass chock-full of charred dietary supplements lies on the ground. Large, parabolic white panels seem to melt off the surrounding gallery walls, the architecture itself requiring braces to keep it together. Lodged in one of the metal scaffolding joints is an ibuprofen lozenge. One might want for something stronger: It’s a mere palliative, as anti-inflammatories do nothing to address the underlying causes of discomfort. To his credit, the artist doesn’t make any of this terribly photogenic. Rather, there’s a negativity behind the slapstick gestures, as with the ratty gray hoodie hanging in the corridor outside the gallery, the words “working uniform” inscribed in black pen on its neckline. Against the imperative to always look good and function properly, one senses Salazar’s affinity for the old Bartleby retort: “I would prefer not to.”

Phil Taylor

Kris Ruhs

18, rue de la Verrerie
October 23–December 27

Kris Ruhs, Hanging Garden, 2014–15, brass, iron, ceramic, porcelain, dimensions variable.

Kris Ruhs’s work encompasses jewelry, design, and textiles. Here, he fuses the craft of metalworking with sculpture for his installation Hanging Garden, 2014–15, articulated as a dense suspension of lustrous vines with delicate ceramic flourishes. Composed of some forty-five thousand pieces of curved brass, iron filaments, and baked porcelain, it’s a striking whole that evokes a childlike sense of enchantment. Still, the raw materiality is one of the most appealing elements here: Upon closer examination, one can see the way brut bits bend or fissure, the minor flaws of manual handwork highlighting the human touch weaved into assiduous craftsmanship. The garden’s leaves and flowers are roughly rendered in a way that is less a faithful reproduction of nature than an organically handmade interpretation. At the back of the gallery space is a concentration of assorted primitive silhouettes in a receding puppet-theater framework. Like the slender metallic strands, this ensemble of figures gains beauty and power by virtue of its sheer volume.

Hanging Garden had a previous life earlier this year at the Galleria Carla Sozzani in Milan, where American-born Ruhs’s atelier is based. The work is shown here in a different formation to fit the larger space, and the light from the glass roof of the gallery imbues the dangling metallic cables with the gleam of shifting natural light. At just the right angle, the whole scene feels like a wonderland from the other side of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, a secret terrain through which the Snow Queen might roam.

Sarah Moroz

Jeff Wall

2 Impasse Lebouis
September 9–December 20

Jeff Wall, Diagonal Composition, 1993, photo transparency on light box, 16 x 18".

Jeff Wall has built his reputation on precisely staged moments, often influenced by scenography from nineteenth-century canonical paintings. His exhibition “Smaller Pictures,” however, shares little with his signature panoramas—not just because of the difference in physical scale from the artist’s usual largesse but also due to the very scope of the pictures’ vision. The artist selected the display here from his personal collection, with each image intended for a more diminutive format. As Wall explains: “Some of these pictures simply refused to be included in larger plans I had for them . . . some were just accidents along the way.” Examples of these misfit images range from the stark color blocking of Diagonal Composition, 1993, which frames the sink in his studio, to The Giant, 1992, which features a naked woman on a stairway landing.

Throughout the first floor of the show, assorted surface details of trivial scenes are highlighted, including commercial boutique windows, cobwebbed panes of glass, textured tree bark, and peas and sauce in an aluminum tin on the ground. When the human body appears, it is seen piecemeal: cut off above the neck in Torso, 1997, or as a dangling foot near a pair of black heels in Picture for Parkett, 1998. A vitrine showcases facsimile documentation of the series “Landscape Manual,” images and text from a road trip that Wall took from Vancouver to the surrounding region between 1969 and 1970. Though Wall’s gaze has the frankness of a documentarian, the pictures—especially those mounted on light boxes and rendered incandescent—contain a sense of mystery and ambiguity that extends beyond their quotidian scale.

Sarah Moroz