Jonathan Pylypchuk’s current solo show at China Art Objects, In the Absence of Human Bastards, is an adroit, funky, pissed off, “Fuck You and Fuck Me Too.”
Pylypchuk’s title, In the Absence of Human Bastards, suggests a state of being far away from human bastards. This could possibly get a little philosophically/semantically tricky. Perhaps an animal or alien speaks the title, judging all humans bastards, or perhaps a human speaks but not a human bastard. The title could also suggest a state of being without human bastards and living in a space sheltered from human bastards but not necessarily without other kinds of bastards, animal or alien bastards for example, and/or the title suggests being in the space carved out for, but for now abandoned by human bastards.
The named space is a space of lack. These figures find recourse only in abjection, accepting that they are cast-offs, crusty wanderers, shitty, without fixed identity. Further, each sculpture’s individual title, a plaintive, fucked-up non-explanation, is as much a part of the works as their fugitive screws and sludgy foam.
Jonathan Pylypchuk, Isn’t It Amazing Baby, We’re in Hollywood, 2011, mixed media
A sculpture, wooden bar stools with backs as entwined two-legged sweeties. The one shorter stool screws the other stool from behind. The shorter stool is all limbs; head back, regarding the ceiling. The front stool holds its short arms out and forward for balance, grabbing air the same way the back stool grabs the front stool’s ass. The front stool has firmed a strong stomach of brown fake leather stool seat so it can bend from the waist 70 degrees. Trails of black chords, just pulled out from the package, crook behind heads, over backs, through figures, snaking neatly into a four-outlet wall plug.
The stools are one.
Spindly biceps and shrugged shoulders are also the sides of torsos. The only features on their backrest faces are purple-blue light bulbs. Pinky-orangey fungus-like, stiffened foam holds bulb to backrest, splurging out around the bulb. Good luck sitting here. Title: Isn’t It Amazing Baby, We’re in Hollywood (all works 2011).
A pleasure of overlapping lines, a crude but elegant sculpture, a thrift store find taken apart and ably put back together with not much more than twenty screws. Get it? They’re screwed, together. It’s Hollywood, and they’re both screwed! Further, notice that semantically: stool = chair and stool = shit… Fucking shit!—a joke on anal sex and an exclamation. (Why does art criticism sometimes feel like you’re trying to explain a good joke?)
Jonathan Pylypchuk, Welcome To The Second Half of the Rest of Your Life, 2011, mixed media
This stool intercourse would be neat and almost cute if it weren’t for another nearby sculpture, Welcome To The Second Half of the Rest of Your Life. Legs still skinny, a beast posing on a stool in only dress socks and a yellow beret, solid chest, arms thicker than legs, hardly a nose, caverns for bulb eyes, no balls, no nipples, no neck… unremitting, black, spray-paint frown. The head is so large. The whole skin of the figure is spray foam, here the pinky-orangey color suggesting perhaps some kind of burn. Professor Hatchet Blubber, bald, skin of the ember of hundreds of thousands of cigarettes, not getting any younger, sits stiffly, poses in front of a perfect portrait or self-portrait. The Professor, plugged in, trapped and/or resting, casts eyes downward, catches a glimpse of stool intercourse, or that is the fantasy, these black-light eyes seeing what is not there, phosphors playing tricks.
Jonathan Pylypchuk, And Then All At Once I Thought, I Hope I Don't Get Cancer From This, 2011, mixed media
In another case, addiction itself is addicted, a lit child-sized cigarette with black light eyes scrambling on pipe knees and steadying there with pipe arms, puckering up for a suck at an extinguished cigarette glory hole. Some cartoon, fit with forensic eyes but mostly just satisfied bumming a smoke. Burn out before quitting. What fucks you up, that thing that fucks you up, that thing all by itself is fucked, is getting fucked up.
Cigarettes aren’t that fucked up, though. Really, this cigarette has a foot that used to support a bookshelf, and could again, if it wanted to; those thighs, knees, legs used to hold wire. This foot used to hold a shelf for tools. Title: And Then All At Once I Thought, I Hope I Don’t Get Cancer From This.
Feeling around for a cigarette squirreled between canvas and stretcher, title: And Then I Realized That I Had Also Pissed Myself A Little, But I Didn't Pass Out. Horse bucks rider. A painting was riding that horse—couldn’t have been too heavy. Poor painting. The orphan top of a long lost container was an easel painting’s saddle on the horse, that lint ball fished out from under the mattress, blown up into a horse, the horse rearing on weathered wood, 4-times-used, drywall screws sticking out of old bits of lumber. Poor horse, still mad, mouth neighed open, legs kicking. (The pedestal has wheels you know.) Trashy, spray-foamed over green canvas, only one good leg left, but the eyes are still piercing. The horse is optimistic... the monumental, principled, fucking horse, inconsiderate of everything that painting went through.
Wipe your nose. Wipe your eyes, flat face, you’ve got yellow stuff comin’ out. Your left ear is big. You’re unoriginal, composed from what was lying around. Give me a screwdriver; in ten seconds, you wouldn’t be picked up from the free scrap pile. What? Sure, go run and tell your little boyfriend. Title: Feel Lost and I Miss My Parents.
Written barely in pencil, on another snotty make-shift mask, a crumbling drywall scrap: “hey scott there is a sour milk/something died smell coming out of here so this is a temporary solution.” Title: At This Point Crumbling Into Oblivion Is The Only Option.
Pylypchuk’s signature cast here is less gendered than usual and per unit scaled larger, but even more stepped on (if that is possible). It is easy to dive into whimsical narratives in response to Pylypchuk’s creatures. I identify with the determined sad sacks. They show up at China Art Objects seemingly genderless or at least male androgynous, and if not completely hairless, bald, slit mouths and spray paint mouths set to frowning. They somehow would herd their (not pictured here) rambunctious rat penis kids from art school, the earlier bleak Pylypchuk generations, through the cold to some kind of lunch somewhere near prohibitively sulky bleak-land. Lunch? Definitely greasy, probably deep fried cheap paint brushes and boiled screws… again. “Well… uh… what hurts, Baby Smudegoo?”
But these figures are more than angry cute. Pylypchuk is smarter than that. The eyes are misaligned, downcast or glaring, purple-glass-glowing, blue filament, forensic black light, eyeball bulbs. They have been looking too long at laptop screens. They reach, they scrapple-scramble, and they search. They barely notice their proximity to other figures confronting their own dig-dug conundrums, beverage coolers as herders, and now hands-on-hips frustrated, peculiarly space-aged robot eyes, under slept parents or at least outraged babysitters.
The eagle is unsure, wondering what it has gotten into, rising from the ashes into this stink, with these whining lummoxes. Plumage is the edge of a painting panel cut off. I know I am crazy, but I still have to make decisions about my life. This could just be my general slobbishness (actually it’s like I just got out of bed), my motivations to make art, the old trends I was worried about stripped away, laying on the ground around me. Judge me? Whatever! I cannot stand my life anyway. I’m not a man. Men aren’t pathetic. I’m an eagle, an eagle in diapers.
A cushion with wooden feet leans towards pulling its eye-power out from the wall. Title: I Don’t Have The Personal Strength To Take That Extra Step To Put The Lights Out Once and For All.
Jonathan Pylypchuk, I Don't Have the Personal Strength To Take That Extra Step To Turn the Lights Out Once and For All, 2011, mixed media
“Pylypchuking” is actualizing and accounting for slobs previously unpaid for low paid, under-the-table hourly work, and/or making the decision to welcome affliction from self-doubt and self-loathing in order to tangle with tepid atomic regenerations, to suck the stink of spirals down… my clay foot, my clay tooth.
Jonathan Pylypchuk, Feel Lost and I Miss My Parents, 2011, mixed media. All images courtesy the artist and China Art Objects Galleries.