For Gordon Hall’s first solo exhibition at Foxy Production, the New York-based artist presented a series of precise, minimal sculptures and site-specific works that made veiled reference to objects of traditional American culture. Giving simple, hand-crafted works the stolid aura of historical artifacts or objects of worship, Hall makes sculptures that, like this show’s palindromic title (“NEVER ODD OR EVEN”), ultimately close in on themselves, forming circuits of connotation rather than offering definitive meaning.
Embedded in two opposite walls of the main gallery were two clear resin pegs (together titled Double [II], all works 2014)—copies of the wooden wall pegs produced by the famously ascetic Shaker communities of the rural Northeastern United States in the mid-1800s. Placed on a low plinth on the floor was a folded triangle of hand-dyed yellow canvas (Fold), suggesting a monochrome facsimile of the ceremonially folded American flag. These not-quite-copies of cultural objects bear the reminiscences of historically charged traditions and rituals, but without the characteristic qualities (in one case the material of wood, in the other the stars and stripes design) that give the original objects their symbolic power.
Hall offered three variations on doubling as a means of creating further apperceptive challenges. Against one wall leaned a stack of white forms resembling rectangular painting palettes, made from chalky joint compound (Double III [Stand And]). Nearby, another stack—identical to the first but made of sewn and folded canvas—lay flat on the floor like a pile of deflated headstones. In the back gallery, a pair of mosaicked ceramic benches (Stools), one with the distinction of a slight curve, solemnly faced each other. A second furniture-sculpture pair consisted of a wooden stool found in Madison, Me., arranged at a right angle to a slightly altered replica built by the artist (Double [I]). Hall’s handmade replication of a readymade item rebuffs the power of mechanical reproduction in favor of a sustained and sustainable tradition that might outlive it. As a whole, the show indicated the artist’s interest in investigating the narratives of history and identity immanent to objects.
At a glance, there didn’t appear to be any works on the walls of the two rooms. But in fact, Hall had painted sections of them differing shades of off-white, creating ghostly patches that were detectable only when the light hit them from certain angles. On the floor of the main gallery, hugging the corners of the room, were geometric sculptures made of wood and pigmented joint compound (Set [IV], Set [V], Set [VI]). These had brightly painted facets that reflected halos of color onto the walls. A strip of non-drying modeling clay, marbled green and white, spread from floor to ceiling along one edge of a supporting column in the center of the room (Middle [II]). Together, these shifting touches of color offered a counterpoint to the weight of the floor-based works on view. In its polarity between the ephemeral and the concrete, the exhibition traced the wide spectrum of narrative elements that materials can embody.