Printer Friendly

Charles Ledray.

To the art world's chronic Brobdingnagism, Charles LeDray opposes his own private Lilliput of handmade, obsessively detailed, and generally twee objects. This show of his recent efforts featured tiny garments (like Becoming/Mister Man |all works 1992~, a checked suit about the size of a one-year-old) and larger works made of tiny garments (like Untitled/Web, a web made of various Ken-and-Barbie-sized clothes). However, these Lilliputian duds are no play clothes. LeDray uses scale like the sculptor of an ancient Mesopotamian relief: big means powerful, tiny means vulnerable. In The Men in the Family, a pile of male clothes lies on the floor. Each item is of a different scale: Ken-sized jeans (complete with worn knees), baby-sized trousers, boy-sized briefs, man-sized boxer shorts, Jolly Green Giant-sized black-leather belt. What's going on here? Men and boys without their underwear? Incest? While there is no obvious narrative, the black belt with its gold buckle is so obscenely large that it necessarily calls to mind spanking, bondage, and punishment. You don't get the sense that this is good, clean, consensual S/M, either.

Whereas Jonathan Swift satirized Lilliput from the point of view of Gulliver (i.e. the big guy), LeDray takes up the viewpoint of the small fry, and it's not funny anymore. Sometimes it's pathetic: the very deliberate disfigurement of a stuffed animal (its face sewn to its leg, its leg to its arm, etc.) looks like an act of spite on the part of the little guy, hurting something even more powerless than himself. At other times, the work is confrontational and accusatory. Nazis are the only authority figures explicitly invoked by any of these pieces. "Hitler had 1 big ball/Goring had 2 but they were small/Himmler had something similar/Goebbels had no balls at all" is the ditty inscribed on Untitled/Hitler, a sort of crudely carved walking stick (or club, maybe). Is it any coincidence that Untitled/Hitler is the only piece in the show really scaled to normal human proportions? (It's 36 inches tall, just the right height for a walking stick.) Are we gallery-goers part of a master race, closer in height to Hitler than to LeDray's 14-inch men's suits?

By drawing comparisons between viewers and fascists, LeDray heightens the dreadful sense of oppression immanent in his artworks. (Am I a big critic exploiting a little artist?) The astonishingly meticulous attention that he lavishes on details (like the teeny-weeny "DRY CLEAN" tag on the suit of Becoming/Mister Man) starts to look less compulsive than compulsory. Art as slave labor. In another work, Untitled/Clothesline, LeDray sews together tiny garments to make a clothesline. However, it was hung not laterally (like a line on which to dry clothing) but vertically, from the ceiling to the floor of the gallery. It was more like a makeshift rope fashioned in a desperate bid to escape. Unfortunately, there weren't any windows to climb out of.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Artforum International Magazine, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Reviews; exhibit at Tom Cugliani, New York City
Author:Seward, Keith
Publication:Artforum International
Date:Apr 1, 1993
Previous Article:Jose Bedia.
Next Article:Anton Solomoukha.

Related Articles
Lydia Dona.
Business and Commercial Litigation: A Trial Lawyer's Handbook.
Tender buttons: the art of Charles Ledray.
'Making Mischief: Dada invades New York:' Whitney Museum of American Art.
A selected checklist of works by and about Charles Johnson.
"Present Tense: Nine Artists in the Nineties." (installation art, various artists, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California)
Sanctioned Rape.
Travel Brief Preview.
Travel brief preview.
Architectural Digest magazine holds luxurious interior design exhibit.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters