The artist Andy Onderdonx’s debut exhibition, a two-person show with the painter Clayton Schiff at the Brooklyn gallery Safe, showcases playful kinetic sculptures and furniture made with a varied list of materials that includes rubber tubes, children’s bedframes, and, in one particularly exciting piece, a whoopee cushion. The day before the opening, Onderdonx gave me a tour of the show, which is on view through March 12.
“I sort of fancy myself an art historian, and I’m really into the history of all sculptors and painters,” Onderdonx told me. The artist’s work is informed in part by the 14 years that he logged as an art handler, through which, he told me, he a received an education while driving trucks full of art around New York City, “sort of teaching myself about different artists and history and where they came from, and who came before them.” (It should be noted that the artist runs a very popular Instagram page, with a strong art historical bent, under the alias Onderdonxx, but when I inquired about it for this piece, the artist told me, “I don’t want to talk about that,” and instead chose to focus on his work at Safe. The account currently has over 66,000 followers.)
Walking around the space, Onderdonx—who works in the Thousand Islands in upstate New York as well as Long Island City—showed off one sculpture to me, titled Self Portrait With Air Trapped Inside, that approximated the human figure with, among other items, a trash can, a rubber tube, and a small bowling ball, which spins around a circular wooden track after pulling on a rope that activates the kinetic element of the work. “If you walk to the reverse of the sculpture, you can see the whoopee cushion, which is the ‘air trapped inside’ part,” he explained, as loud flatulation noises emitted from the back of the piece post-pull. “I tried to make it strong enough so anyone could yank on ‘em, and we’ll just see what happens,” he said. He made all of the work for the show in the past two weeks.
Onderdonx remarked that his sculptures worked well with Schiff’s colorful paintings, calling the accompanying works “weird in all the right ways”—also not a bad choice of words to describe his own art, which at times can recall some of the modernist work that he so elegantly selects for his Instagram account. He told me that although he works with a lot of found objects, his process involves quite a bit of ruminating on the materials “until I feel like I can make a nice combination that’s sort of different than just—at least for me it feels like it’s different—than just sort of throwing found objects together.”
Within these interactive sculptures, there are also a few pieces of furniture on display. One standout is a chair titled Pretty Precarious Perch, which is constructed around a giant rubber tube, elevated on a wooden pedestal of sorts. It lives up to its namesake. “Every time I get into it, I almost fall out,” Onderdonx said. “It could break at any time, it’s really stressful, and it’s shady as hell getting into this thing.” As Onderdonx talked, he struggled to climb into the awesomely cumbersome perch. “Once you get in here, you can kind of relax,” he remarked. It feels like it would be a cool chair from which to view a sporting event on a big screen television.
Another piece, titled Goof Scootin Boogie, features two large rubber balls and a rock resting at the base. “That rock is here because Palyzeh [Kashi, of Safe Gallery] wrote the press release and mentioned a moss-covered rock, which I had sent here in a photo of one of the chairs I had been working on upstate,” Onderdonx explained. “So I had to go find that under two feet of snow and dig it out and bring it to the show.” Potential buyers of the work, however, should not get too attached to that particular element of the piece. “After the show I gotta put it back in the woods,” he emphasized. “Rock not included.”