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Swiss Mix! Wade Guyton’s John Armleder Opening Draws a Crowd, Leaves No One Neutral

Medium Green, Woodland Scenes, Realistic Trees (2014)

Medium Green, Woodland Scenes, Realistic Trees (2014).

Last night artists and curators gathered at Wade Guyton’s Greenpoint studio, just past Father Jerzy Popieluszko Square and the mobile brick oven set up outside, for the opening of a new show by John Armleder.

Two skinny chefs attended the oven in the street, which chugged out loaves of bread for the dinner that followed a performance by Genesis P-orridge. Inside people thronged the massive post-Pollock works, aggressively abstract in their coloring and size, almost natural objects in their narrative resistance. Unlike the works (all new, some created in the space), the crowd ranged from young to old, artists to curators, with a hint of Europeanism in the mix. A DJ spun vinyl on a table printed with jpegs, a Guyton collaboration with Kelley Walker.

“I’m Swiss, he’s Swiss, there are a lot of Swiss people here,” said dealer Marc Jancou, of why he came. “It’s a bit of a reunion here. It’s like Switzerland in Bushwick [sic]!”

“Formidable!” said Swiss artist Valentin Carron, of the show, while en route to smoke, and promised to have more in-depth things to say upon his return.

Guyton, whose inkjet paintings have been the subject of a market boom in recent years, said the show came together over drinks with Armleder not long ago in Zurich. Guyton had hoped to take a year off work anyway–“I’m only doing drawings right now”–and joked that he didn’t want to let the studio go to waste.

Armleder, for his part, said that the opportunity to work in the space, a former warehouse with ceilings twice the size of any gallery, allowed him to work larger and more freely. “You don’t have to think about the things that aren’t fun,” he said, “like transport.”

Soon he was greeted by the artist and writer Walter Robinson.

“It’s all your fault, Walter!” he said, shaking Robinson’s hand. “You started me on these messy things.”

“Yeah but I didn’t use GLITTER,” Robinson rolled his eyes. “How do you do all this anyway? With a broom? Were you lying in bed while you have two beautiful girls push it around for you?” (Later, Robinson explained this was a reference to the Henry Matisse cut-outs show the Museum of Modern Art, where some of the pieces were assembled by Matisse’s paramours at his direction, in his old age.)

“I don’t have girls anymore, Walter,” Armleder sighed, shaking his head and with it the long ponytail that runs down his back. “Plus, they didn’t want to do things like that usually anyway.”

(Olivier Mosset, who rocks hair of a similar length, said for his part that he’d never tried a ponytail like Armleder’s because “John always was a bit of a dandy.”)

One man speaking to a MoMA curator suggested that he, the curator, and a friend go take a selfie in front of the biggest work, Medium Green, Woodland Scenes, Realistic Trees (2014), which towered over a row of chairs in front of it. Four canvases sat casually in racks near the door, where a group of younger artists discussed how awesome the movie John Wick is. Not far from that, Ludovica Barbieri, of Armleder’s Italian gallery Massimo De Carlo, tried to describe how awesome an artist John Armleder is.

“He doesn’t compare himself to other artists, he doesn’t talk about the market, he’s very nice,” she said.

“He’s not an asshole,” she concluded.

Correction 6:41 p.m. An earlier version of this post said “Kara Walker” instead of the name of Guyton’s frequent collaborator Kelley Walker.

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