Group shows perused in Chelsea yesterday. Much of it produced wanting to nap feelings. Half dead feelings. Why feelings. Like Idols of Perversity at Bellwether. Clotted, overhung, an overarticulated vision...usually I am interested in this. I get it - it's fun! Over the top! Wow! Salon style! Tacky is great! Big wide-eyed feelings swirling into tiny dangling decorative flourishes. Romanticism and angst, kitschy bad painting, all mixed up in the dreamy, sexy-time languid bed hours. But it was too much somehow. As though all of the forbidden pleasures of kitsch, the kind of excited embarrassment that used to be associated with it have now been subsumed and swallowed by the very fact of its emphatic promotion by a Chelsea gallery. Like when a little-known band you used to covertly love now has a song on a car commercial - all of a sudden they are everywhere and all the reasons you had for liking them evaporate...I don't know. There were things to love, little moments here and there, but mostly I felt crowded out, as though there was no room to breathe or think or have any kind of independent reaction or private discovery.
However, I was moved beyond expectation at the group show at Feature that opened yesterday. As you walk into the gallery on your left, there is a small shelf of Tantric drawings made in India. They are simple, anonymous and gorgeous. Tiny, centrally-focused abstractions - magical geometric shapes and bits of colored patterning that hover on sheets of paper. I have just started learning about them - there was a show of them this past winter at the Drawing Center's Drawing Room. They are generated as objects of meditation, that is their main purpose. Their modesty and purity somehow provided me everything I lacked at Bellwether. It is an unfair comparison, for sure, as the intentions behind both the work and the curation of the shows could not be more opposite. But I think I just get more pleasure out of finding something to love that's small, out-of-the-way, something not obviously on display.