Oren Pinhassi: Second Nature
Pinhassi’s installation conjures abstracted renditions of gay cruising spots, from bathhouses to parks
London's Edel Assanti gallery is currently showcasing the first UK exhibition by New York artist Oren Pinhassi (b. 1985).
With Pinhassi's work taking over the entire gallery, the show aims to create an environment that is "at once familiar and foreign", drawing upon the failings of postmodernism, as well as reinterpretations of archetypal objects.
"Pinhassi’s installation conjures abstracted renditions of gay cruising spots, from bathhouses to parks. The sculptures harness the sexual charge of these communal spaces, where concealed desires are rendered visible. Freestanding pavilions recall urban structures, offering limited shelter or privacy, yet inviting voyeuristic curiosity in equal measure. The pavilions’ glass walls have been rendered opaque by the artist’s application of Vaseline in repetitive, painterly gestures," – Edel Assanti gallery.
Second Nature invites us into an environment that is at once familiar and foreign, in which traditional categories of architecture, nature and body are collapsed. These classical divisions, along with ensuing binary delineations of structure, space, gender and sexuality, are rejected by Pinhassi as delinquent features of a postmodern era in its twilight.
If the postmodernist era has been defined by an aversion to reimagining society’s structure, then Pinhassi’s intention is to overcome this cultural trauma by reawakening the utopian impulse, queering rigid classifications and transforming social spaces.
The spectre of modernism is inescapable – the plaster used in the making of the sculptures evokes poured concrete; each object is unique, yet their formal and geometric regularity is decidedly functional. This sensibility is undermined, however, by the fantastical, corporal allure of these objects. Reclining chairs are personified, mimicking limbs and body language in their configuration. Serpentine towels are curled up on the floor – twisted and used, yet hardened by the solidified plaster with which they have been filled.
Where bodily forms at first seem absent, the body’s presence is implied by the scale or practical use of the structures. Smaller pergolas evoke tropical vegetation in their green colour and seemingly organic form, yet their rigidity suggests they too have some non-prescriptive purpose. Two glasses are attached to each of these umbrella-like trees, one at hand held height and the other at genital height. Orifices are present throughout the exhibition, overtly gaping from a pink burlap coated in plaster hanging from a towel rack.
Whilst the exhibition is populated by sculptures, it is the relationship between physical environment, behaviour and psychology that is the primary subject of Pinhassi’s enquiry. His alchemical sculptural process transposes a handmade peculiarity to each object, idiosyncratic in colour, texture and form. The concrete geometry of urban public space melts away – yet if this is nature, it is a new dawn.
Oren Pinhassi graduated the Yale School of Art in 2014. Pinhassi lives and works in New York City.