Roberta Smith – Art in Review: Nether Art

‘Nether Art’ ‘A Dutch Response to the 90’s’ Grey Art Gallery and Study Center 33 Washington Place East Greenwich Village Through May 15

There is certainly more to contemporary Dutch art than wry, culturally critical appropriation, but that’s what stands out in this uneven, if sometimes illuminating, show of 10 young artists from the Netherlands.

The show starts with “Dad,” Edwin Janssen’s tongue-in-cheek paean to mindless normalcy: a wonderfully realistic sculpture of a chimpanzee wearing corduroy slacks, sweater vest and spectacles who sits in a child’s rocking chair with a copy of the National Geographic in his hands. Next are the faux-delftware paintings of Hugo Kaagman, whose stenciled images contrast traditional Dutch designs and images with sinister signs of progress: an ice-skater zipping past a gantlet of factories, for example. In Jan Starken’s floor piece “Operation Desert Flower,” several battalions of tiny toy tanks in different shades of pink and green are arranged to depict an image of roses, while Rob Scholte’s amusing painting “The Scream 2” lifts the image and text of an advertisement for an inflatable doll that is itself lifted from the original “Scream” by Edvard Munch

Perhaps most engaging after Mr. Janssen’s chimpanzee and Mr. Scholte’s Munch tribute is “Only in Scottsdale,” an installation piece by a nonexistent artist named Seymour Likely, a creature of the imagination of Ronald Hooft, Aldert Mantje and Ido Vunderink. It consists of a roomful of painted plaster pigs, some of them peculiarly fragmented, routing in sand, and it adds a welcome bit of messiness to the otherwise orderly proceedings.

The New York Times, May 7, 1993