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Review: 'Synesthesia' makes itself at home at M+B

July 16, 2012
  • "Synesthesia," a group exhibition at M B, 2012.
"Synesthesia," a group exhibition at M B, 2012. (Jeff McLane / M B )

A “group” exhibition curated by Paris gallerist Daniele Balice and Jay Ezra Nayssan, “Synesthesia” is really an art installation in its own right, turning part of the gallery at M+B into an approximation of a fictional collector’s home. And what a collector she is, with art objects by Picasso, Alex Katz and Renaissance painter Jacopo da Valenza; furniture by Eileen Gray and Gio Ponti, and clothing by Yves Saint Laurent. In this home, everything, from the carpet to the chandelier, is uniformly interesting.

The installation is meant to evoke a stage set, traipsing the line between reality and artifice. But more intriguing is the translation of the collector’s display preferences — a little bit of this next to a little bit of that — into the white, antiseptic cube of the gallery. The result is a fruitful mixing of codes in which the lines between art and home décor bend a little bit. Three 2012 silkscreens by Thomas Dozol are unquestionably works of art, but who’s to say the 1960s “Carpathian Elm Burl Coffee Table” by Stewart MacDougall is not?

The price list is informative in this regard. The trio of prints costs about the same amount as the table. At what (price) point does furniture become art, or art become décor? It’s an interesting question, not only because it deflates high art pretensions, but because it reminds us that in the rarefied world of the collector, a visit to the art gallery is something like a trip to Ikea for the rest of us.

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M+B, 612 N. Almont Drive, L.A. (310) 550-0050, through Aug. 31. Closed Sundays and Mondays. www.mbart.com

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