Davis, Cherubini-the name for the ongoing collaboration of sculptors Taylor Davis and Nicole Cherubini-debuted in New York at Newman Popiashvili. Titled “Cobalt,” a reference to the commonly used but highly toxic blue pigment, the exhibition was their third as a team. (The others were at the MIT List Visual Arts Center in 2009, and at Samson Projects in Boston in 2010.) Concurrent with “Cobalt,” they were included in “One Is the Loneliest Number,” a group show about collaborative art at Philadelphia’s Institute for Contemporary Art.
All nine objects in the exhibition are dated 2011, which indicates an expeditious, if seamless, output (the show opened in early April). The rate of production is particularly impressive for two independent-minded art makers with active individual practices. Compared to the irreverence of earlier works-such as PotBox (2007), a glazed cardboard box stuffed inside a ceramic vessel all on top of a pedestal made of a plaster cast of the box’s interior-I Love You is refined. A circular, brick red clay wall relief with glaze on only its 2½-inch rim, I Love You seems to have been kneaded or pounded with the end of a two-by-four, leaving faint, undulating indentations. A few of the works can be described as both gorgeous and witty, such as the playful sister pieces Orange Sunshine and One-man Show. Each features bisque stoneware slabs attached to partially exposed rectilinear wooden armatures mounted on the wall. The horizontal Orange Sunshine suggests a passing cloud; One-man Show is vertical and resembles the mildly cartoonish profile of a promontory and seems to defy wall-mounted composure.
Though three freestanding sculptures were on view, the most striking works either leaned against or hung on the wall, pushing Davis, Cherubini’s sculptural activities into the formal purview of painting. This was especially true of Henhouse, one of the best pieces here. A cadmium yellow and cobalt blue oblong slice of flat clay, Henhouse is backed by what appears to be fiberboard that has been painted pink. The pink, yellow and blue are wonderful together, though you can’t quite see all three at once; the pink is visible only from the side, and when it comes into view you lose sight of one of the other two colors. The piece coaxes examination as it teases the eye with color and form in an exciting way.
Through their collaboration, Davis and Cherubini are forging a language that offers manifold possibilities, drawing as they do on two very different sculptural vocabularies. In fact, the subject matter of the resulting sculptures includes interpersonal communication itself-one can uncover traces of intellectual and spiritual exchange. Hopefully they will be careful not to synthesize too much, because the juxtapositions are as interesting as the integrations.
Photo: View of Davis, Cherubini’s exhibition “Cobalt,” showing (left to right) 20 Hounds, One Eighty Two and Orange Sunshine, all 2011; at Newman Popiashvili.