Henry Gunderson at Carl Kostyál
Does every mystery need to be resolved? At Carl Kostyál’s London outpost, the artist Henry Gunderson answers that question with a resounding “no.” In a tightly edited and technically accomplished set of paintings, Formula One is an exhibition that takes pleasure in enigmas and paradoxes.
Every work here contains objects and things we are familiar with: sunglasses, computer parts, shoes, video cameras, chess pieces, etcetera; but how these individual parts are assembled is something entirely bizarre and wonderful. A rave scene in the painting Stars at Capacity shows instead of disco lights, the shine of heat lamps, police sirens, and desk lamps. A metal screw is tied in a knot and hovering above a dirty textbook concerned with the subject of mental disorders in The Mechanic. In Drag Rod, a checkered platform boot is mounted on race car wheels, and covered with chess pieces.
The references and potential meanings are numerous if you try to unpack it all. There’s elements of psychology, consumerism, sensual pleasure, evolution, and much, much more. You might laugh and enjoy yourself, but wonder, “what does it all mean?” However, that isn’t really the point. Your need for organization is deflected by the artist when you notice how these handsome paintings are nonsensical, and connecting the dots is actually futile. As the press release plainly states, “Gunderson’s subjects are deliberately dissonant and anti-formulaic.”
In the end, Formula One isn’t a show that will offer up neat dissections or friendly canvases. The artist celebrates his own unique pluralism with a clash of images and ideas. So while trying to solve the puzzles in these works is instinctive for most viewers, it also isn’t a worthwhile approach. Instead, I suggest relishing in their illogical beauty and odd humor. As Gunderson so marvelously illustrates, not every problem or question needs a solution.