A white mannequin lounges stiffly on two saw horses, naked except for a blue-and-white gingham cloth, carefully placed.
Mannequin doesn’t quite capture the pure whiteness of the skin, how careful and articulate are the details or how idealized his looks. Like some Greek statuary temporarily taken down from its pedestal to be cleaned. It’s not Greek though, too particular. Maybe Roman? Not quite tough enough really. Those Romans always added extra brawn to their imperial statues. Caesar Augustus’s head always looked so little perched up on that mountain of meat and armor. Their idealizations were always a bit macho. This isn’t macho. But refined.
We’re in Los Angeles by the way. So idealized sculptures of marbley white bodies bring to mind Frank Benson’s sculptures mocking street performers and models posed just so, creepily lifelike. And of course, one of the great heroes of LA sculpture, Charles Ray, whose profound investigations into the nature of sculpture, space, and scale revolutionized the medium, whose extra-sized lady mannequins and these last year's white and metal bodies have spooked with their verisimilitude, tweaked just so.
Mateo Tannatt, Müller-Lyer, 2013, Brass plated aluminum in 3 parts; Courtesy of the Artist and Marc Foxx.
There are other things in here of course. Some wonky bits of circled steel looking like blown-up corten replicas of a painter’s palette, some cartoony gents pulling out of their resin molds (pink and smiling, a Capricorn according to the checklist, and one sad-faced and blue, Gemini apparently, both named Michael), a snapshot of some pants hanging in a lemon tree, a travertine disc (with some lemon juice apparently), a S-curve screen of curved metal hung with objets d’art, a trio of brass-plated arrows mimicking an old optical illusion/anthropologist’s trick, and a green stroller atop a green rectangle with a lemon.
It’s hard not to look under the cloth. Someone else gave me the idea, but I eagerly plunked down to look. Others I heard deigned with their unworthiest hands to merely pluck the cloth away to look (collectors).
Hiding there is just a cylinder of white wood.
The white mannequin looks surprisingly like Mateo Tannatt. Tannatt’s work is about Los Angeles and cheerfully desecrating minimalism and modernism and the artists and their accidents/discoveries/mistakes and allusions to things it would be almost impossible to guess but all in a way that’s silly enough for all of us to find charming. You can safely toss in a tinkle of Broodthaers and dollop of Franz West just to be safely referential. The cylinder in place of a cock was a Paul McCarthy gag, but it's reachey to make too tight a connection there.
Perhaps the white statue is a Charlie Ray quote, the travertine marble a mimic of the stone at the Getty Museum (made of travertine) where Ray recently had one of his iconic white sculptures on display: a naked boy perched above the stairs, a replica of the one that stood on the Punta della Dogana in Venice, welcoming all the Biennale tourists a while back. Or the travertine like the white statue is some kind of classical reference. The steel S-curve and palletted steel feels wholly like some quote of industrious ‘60s materials. The lemon is anyone’s guess, but we can make jokes about “a lemon” as a kind of a failure, the lemon as connected to some English idiom or maybe a still-life. Maybe tossing a lemon in is weirdly funny and it is.
Mateo Tannatt, Untitled, 2013, Painted steel and wood platform with stroller with lemon, 40-1/2 x 42 x 27-3/4 inches; Courtesy of the Artist and Marc Foxx.
The title of the show, "A Faun On The Lawn and Other Translations for Laying Bricks," feels like some kind of actual translation, though a web search for it leads only to a Verlaine poem. Travertine is an actual building material, “Other Translations” might mean that all the objects are perhaps other translations of labor, the mixing of humans and material to create things.
The baby carriage and the green rectangle I know exactly where they came from and I’m not telling, it would ruin the rebus, which ungamefully, I’ve already half-revealed.
(Image on top: Mateo Tannatt, Picnic, 2013, Fiberglass, resin, wood with cloth on wood sawhorses, 74-3/4 x 26 x 17 inches; Courtesy of the Artist and Marc Foxx.)