Dan Finsel’s intriguing show at Richard Telles revolves around a 1974 book he found in his parents’ collection: "The Inward Journey/Art as Therapy for You." The sculptures, paintings and photographs that Finsel created in response seem to be a Freudian exploration of family dynamics, with plenty of references to the inputs and outputs of at least two important orifices. They are also send-ups of the notion of art as a direct conduit to self-discovery.
The show opens with a faux copy of the book, its title translated into pig Latin, and a portrait of Finsel sitting at a table with a variety of clay objects. This is followed by a series of photographs of a nude Finsel crouching atop the table, variously entwined with the objects. On the opposite wall are several paintings of clay tubes arranged in mandala-like formations that also resemble pretzels or fallopian tubes, or perhaps really unappetizing sausages.
There are also three tables, the designs of which supposedly represent the stages of life: childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Looking at art-making through the most hackneyed, psychological lens, the installation descends into a cryptic system of symbols. Instead of self-discovery, we sink into more and more layers of bizarre, personal code.