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Back to Reviews 96


racing forms
by p.c. smith
a gallery tip sheet

Alan Belcher
at Jack Shainman

Jan. 4-Feb. 9, 1997

This Canadian artist's new series, "Friends," constructed in acrylic plush, mutates only slightly the idea of stuffed animals. Images of fruit, fried eggs, soccer balls and cartoon animals pop out of complex, bulging configurations. Art's spiritual comfort is satirized as warm and fuzzy anthropomorphic infantilism. The materials remind one of Mike Kelley (one could name other antecedents as well), but Belcher's color and form here tends more towards Playskool Biomorphic. Besides co-founding the influential East Village gallery Nature Morte, over the last 15 years Belcher has created a sound-bite-rich range of conceptual objects, always with interesting social awareness. His work has remained somewhat in the shadow of his peers, artists like Ashley Bickerton and Jeff Koons, probably because they have a patched-together, junky esthetic that lacks expensive sheen. Until recently, his objects have questioned the role of photography: photographs of contraband mounted on luggage, or of buildings under construction wrapped around cinderblocks (1988), or voodoo fetish self-portraits using photo-booth faces and bits of his own hair, clothing and nail clippings (1995). Thus far, Belcher's work has been too easily forgotten.