Taking a space anywhere but on Main Street or Jobs Lane, in Southampton that is, might seem like a risk for an art gallery—but after a visit to the new Keszler Gallery Annex on North Sea Road, just south of Montauk Highway, it was clear why owner Stephan Keszler would choose the location.
The building, a former power plant, offers sky-high ceilings—suitable for large-scale artworks that could not otherwise fit—and massive garage-like doors that allow what’s inside the gallery (like that winking lenticular photograph “I Love You” by Derrick Santini) to be visible from the street. Old brick walls, painted white, and exposed overhead beams give the gallery a certain industrial, edgy rawness while sleek, modern and minimal gallery furniture let you know that Keszler is really all about contemporary art.
Currently on view, and visible from outside (anyone who’s been stuck at that red light on their way to Schmidt’s or Lynch’s will have seen it) are works by Alexandre Arrechea, who represented Cuba during the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011. The 15-foot-high curvilinear steel sculptures set on the grassy hill, “Helmsely,” 2013, and “Empire State,” 2012-2013, are modifications of the New York City skyscrapers, shrunken in size and altered to the extent that their tops are no longer pointing upward—”Empire State” is coiled up like a snail shell while “Helmsely” makes a giant ring. Turned inward, could this be a commentary on the current state of the city? The series, entitled “No Limits,” lends itself to a wealth of interpretations—no limits on the artist’s ambition to create, no limits to the self-handed bonuses within the financial sector.
Both works on view outside of Keszler Annex were part of the Park Avenue Project, presented by Magnan Metz Gallery, in partnership with the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation and the Fund for the Park Avenue Sculpture Committee, where they were seen from March through early June of this year by New Yorkers making their daily commute up and down Park Ave. Featured on the cover of Time Out New York, as part of their “Amazing Outdoor Art” issue (April 25–May 1, 2013), ”Empire State” is photographed as it stood in early spring, on the Park Avenue median surrounded by mathematically planted tulips and taxi cabs. It’s strikingly amusing to note the difference surrounding scale makes in the overall impression of Arrechea’s sculpture.
In Manhattan, surrounded by skyscrapers, ”Empire State” and other works from the No Limits series seem large. Here in Southampton they seem massive inside the Annex, where more examples from No Limits are on view, along with watercolors and works on paper relating to the series, should a collector wish to partake in the series on a smaller scale. An adjoining room features artwork by Keszler mainstay artists—fashion photographer Marco Giaviano’s supermodels, skateboards with designs by Damien Hirst and Murakami, Bert Stern’s Marilyn portraits and Russell Young’s iconic screenprints, to name a few. Impressive and strikingly beautiful works by Zhuang Hong Y—made of rice paper flowers and paint on canvas—make use of the gallery’s high ceilings and wide space as they extend not only upward and outward but also towards the viewer in their sculptural relief. Bansky’s “Wet Dog,” 2007, the original, unique street work, will bid you adieu on your way out; the lasting imprint beckoning a second visit.
The current show at Keszler Annex will be on view through Labor Day. Keszler Gallery is located at 200 North Sea Road, Southampton. For more information, call 212-774-1906 or visit keszlergallery.com.
Published in Dan’s Papers, August 10, 2013