Brendan Lynch’s Mountains Collection, now on view at Untitled Gallery in the LES, invites viewers into an intimate yet uncanny reality. The installation is centered around the work and iconic presence of TV personality Bob Ross, building into its presentation a dialog with the mass-mediated elements of art production. Alongside the omnipresence of Ross, Lynch has introduced mundane objects from his own studio. Paint-spattered desks and a sliver of his personal library bring the artist’s own identity into play – and, along with it, the burden of ‘authenticity’ and authorship that has loomed large in art theory since the glory days of Critical Theory in the early 1960s, now re-consider in the boon of the digital age.
Untitled’s backroom, converted into a large lounge space, which includes a small library adorned with several pale and lived-in beanbag chairs and enshrined in an abundant display of lamps, is reminiscent of a low-fi present-day tech office. The audience is invited to occupy the space. We may explore its treasures and indulge in a casual and intimate experience and simply hang-out or read and recline. Draped floor-to-ceiling over the rear wall of the gallery is a backlit cloudscape. The dominating presence of this wall, its blue-toned light contrasting with the warmth of the floor-bound lighting, draws out the un-natural and uncomfortable ambiguity of the installation. A cloudscape, which is typically seen as a docile and tranquil image, a historic nod to the notion of the sublime, looms over the space as a barrier. In keeping with the issue of the sublime, the idea of “transcendence” is evident, but frustrated in one’s viewing experience by the physical disruption of a wall at the center of the room. Moreover, the tightly designed space provides a constriction and sense of control as we consider the constructed environment of leisure, privacy, and comfort. The net effect is a reminder that our lives are becoming increasingly less private. The strength of the exhibition is in the tension between public and private, mass and individual, the role of the popularized notion of creativity versus those of the rarified art “world,” and the force with which the show guides one to physically inhabit these ideas.
-Nico Alonso, Digital Assistant