Mr. Jerry Saltz recently wrote a review in NY Magazine on Klara Liden’s exhibition Pretty Vacant at Reena Spaulings. The article starts with “You enter Klara Liden’s portentous cemetery of trees…”swap the word portentous with pretentious and you’ll be on the right track. No such luck though as Mr. Saltz continues his head-up-his-ass reign of territorial marking. How this man is allowed to continually slip this kind of biased writing into the realm of even fluff criticism is beyond many of us. His random sanctioning of mediocre talent is nothing short of contemptuous but let’s not forget that he is after all a failed artist…that might explain the reckless handling of power but it doesn’t excuse it.
This is how the show went down: in short, the artist dragged a bunch of discarded Christmas trees into the gallery for an overbearing installation that aims to learn us yokels about loss or entropy…a worn-out trope indeed. I would have had been more stimulated if the artist had simply placed a can of pine scented air freshener in the center of the empty gallery space and equipped it with a timer that would release its contents every now and then…If you are going to waist my time then at least give me some comic relief.
Anyways, in his ever so generous review Saltz takes on the role of the Ghost of Christmas past by evoking a variety of artists from a lost era who have used trees in specific works; as if those stars would somehow magically prop up Liden’s scrawny concept piece… this is not Charlie Brown’s Christmas and it does not. I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that if the artist had a set of Christmas balls or if the exhibition were shown in a “lesser” gallery the review would not even have been written because that is how Jerry rolls.
Speaking of literary abuse, the most disgusting trick Saltz pulls when he references the work of the late Mike Kelly and then links the recent loss of this great artist early on in the article when he sites Dante’s Wood of the Suicides while walking us through the installation. All this word play is meant to somehow give Liden’s piece a mystique that it doesn’t have and a historical reference it doesn’t deserve…and yes, this is way too much of a conceit Jerry.