I have no recollection what made me go to see Osang Gwon’s Deodorant Type at Arario Gallery (on view until October 24, 2009), but whatever it was I’m immensely grateful for it. I suppose you would call the work on display sculpture, even though its description (“C-print, Mixed Media”) indicates that something else is going on. But these beyond life size statues are sculpture, and the “C print” refers to the photographs that cover their surface, to give them a photo-realistic and also somewhat disturbing appearance.
Most non-photographic art looks terrible online so none of the images on either the artist’s or the gallery’s website does the art work any justice (of course, the same is usually true for photographs even though, sadly enough, some photography looks better online than on the wall). Staging a show of such sculptures must pose a bit of a problem, and if you don’t know why you’ll know once you’ve seen them. The gallery decided to solve this problem in a very simple and actually rather elegant fashion: There is just a very small number of these sculptures on view, and while at first glance this looks totally ridiculous - it’s almost as if you walk into an empty space - it works very well. Crowding these pieces would have ruined some of their effect.
There are a couple of more photographic pieces in the show (hanging in the back of the wall), and even though I somehow think that maybe seeing those pieces somewhere online might have made me go to the show, they’re completely forgettable. But the sculptures… now that’s the real deal, those you want to see next time you’re in Chelsea.