Where it’s hot–or not

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The Adam Cvijanovic “Ideal City” installation at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art’s Morris Gallery is one of those shows that should attract an enormous crowd of young people.

The artist is young and hot, hot, hot. He’s a New York artist (that’s Brooklyn) with a long list of big shows under his belt, and he’s not unknown in Philadelphia, having recently shown one of his painted wallpapers (the bosky backyard scene, no repeats) in the Fabric Workshop and Museum’s wallpaper show.

Furthermore, his subject matter, which includes the Osage Avenue MOVE bombing (some of the paintings of the MOVE fire shown right), ought to fire up some local interest.

So if this work were showing at the ICA, I’d bet the crowd at the opening would have quintupled the anemic turnout Friday at PAFA.

What’s the story?

People show up for Fabric Workshop and Museum shows and Vox Populi shows just a block away, so I’d have to eliminate location.

Is the Morris Gallery, which has been showing some pretty thought-provoking and hip shows of work by an array of artists from around the country, suffering from association with its parent institution’s stuffy reputation. Why isn’t PAFA’s stuffy reputation getting a polish from the Morris Gallery shows (shown left, detail from the installation plus someone’s sleeve)?

Is it because the Cvijanovic show fits closely to the Academy tradition of realist painting, thereby misleading people into thinking this is just ho-hum realism?

Anyway, to make a long story short, the Osage Avenue piece alone is worth the visit, with its disorienting space, it’s dreamy light and its nearly uniform row houses standing as metaphors for residents living in harmony–except for that one house–the MOVE house–with boarded-up windows and the loopy yellow structure on the roof (see detail, right, and wider view at top).

I found the rest of the installation more interesting for its content than its execution, but still worth the visit.

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