New Yorker: Matt Johnson

January 30, 2017

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Matt Johnson

Exacting reproductions of everyday objects aren’t breaking news (the work of Robert Gober or Fischli & Weiss come to mind), but in this carefully orchestrated show the Los Angeles sculptor takes the technique on a challenging ride. A piece of white Styrofoam is rendered with such virtuosity that it’s impossible to believe it’s not real; more obviously handmade touches, like the lettering on a crumpled cup from the fast-food chain El Pollo Loco, raise unsettling questions about production and value. What makes a wooden sculpture of a wooden shipping pallet any different from the original, except its location in a gallery? Johnson’s work is so labor-intensive that one takes it as a labor of love. But there is an implied critique here, too, about the market’s insatiable appetite, which runs the risk of treating art as a form of fast food.

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