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Review: Kendell Carter at Sandroni Rey

April 24, 2009 | 12:00 pm


Sandroni Rey’s project space, housed in a shipping container in the parking lot behind the gallery, has rarely been employed to such appealing effect as in Kendell Carter’s installation, “Changing Room.”
Carpeted, lined in clean, white wainscoting, hung with nine candy-colored paintings on vellum and crowded with a variety of fabric-covered sculptures, the space offers a cozy, colorful shelter from the banality of the urban landscape, something like the interior of a stylish boutique.

The palette is drawn from hip-hop fashion — bold, appetizing colors — as are many of the actual materials. Several of the wall-mounted works, including a pair of so-called Drip Paintings, are draped with fat, multicolored shoelaces. The piece that takes up most of the center of the space, “Waves of Thought,” is a chandelier whose every rounded lamp is draped with a nylon do-rag. 

The show’s title is intended to be taken literally. At the rear of the gallery is a screen built from stacked, upholstered milk crates that are mirrored on the far side, behind which piles of clothes hang from hooks on the wall, available to anyone compelled to try them on.

It is a clever commentary on the widespread cultural and commercial co-opting of street fashion, particularly given that the mirrors are all slightly askew, fracturing the reflection of the body into pieces and making it impossible to achieve a coherent view.

Carter, of course, is also co-opting — luxuriating in the material extravagance of hip-hop and underscoring its ties to the baroque. He is not the first to draw the connection — Kehinde Wiley, who happens to have a show up at Roberts & Tilton, makes the point rather more dramatically — but the immersive quality of Carter’s installation adds a different, more enigmatic spin.

-- Holly Myers

Sandroni Rey, 2762 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A., (310) 280-0111, through May 23. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Above: “Waves of Thought.” Credit: Sandroni Rey