Art Commentary: Hans Van De Bovenkamp and Photorealism at Meisel Gallery

While Hamptons resident Lou Meisel has opened a new gallery uptown in New York (Bernarducci. Meisel.Gallery), his original SoHo venue on Prince Street is something of a landmark, considering Meisel started it during the early 1970s where there were very few art spaces. The gallery has gone through changes, of course, but it remains stable in a neighborhood that sees shops come and go. The area also has a lot of character and so does this gallery. The Hans Van De Bovencamp sculpture outside the space has remained a “character” as well, especially for this critic who laughs each time she passes it. Why? Because it’s chained to the pavement so no one can steal it. The chain has become part of the shape.

Inside, the current show features Bovenkamp’s recent works, small abstract sculptures that can only be described as idiosyncratic: unique forms, specifically odd-shaped circles. Even if these pieces are small compared to the artist’s previous pieces, they seem bigger, majestic and archetypical. Thus, the works look as if they have sprung from an ancient civilization. In fact, one sculpture at Meisel’s uptown galley recalls Stonehenge with its overhead foundation and supporting columns; some say the primitive configuration at Stonehenge is a burial site. (This critic made such an observation before reading Donald Kuspit’s article citing the same idea.) [expand]

Form and content collide in Bovenkamp’s forms, the polished metal materials evoking a contemporary perspective, the mood suggesting archetypical life that existed thousands of years ago. The artist’s sculpture park in Sagaponack seems ideal for these works to be displayed where nature and man-made shapes join as one entity.

There are other collisions in the gallery as well: an exhibition of Photorealism juxtaposed with Bovenkamp’s sculpture. Yet Photorealism is not as contrary to Bovenkamp’s work as first imagined. First, some images are also archetypical in their own right. For example, Americana is represented as a symbolic and iconic place.

Consider Bertrand Meniel’s San Francisco business street where history comes alive through its diverse stores. Tom Blackwell’s “Broadway” is another view of shops, this time showing a shoe store window from inside the venue looking out to the street. The words “Florsheim Shoes” predominate, reminding this critic of her own father’s shoe business. Some images stay with us, and the actuality of the photorealistic style makes the experience more intense.

Then there are archetypical images associated with small towns, like “Gas,” featuring a middle-America scene complete with a service station and motel. Even so, other countries can represent indigenous archetypical locales, too, including a painting of the Place Vendome in Paris. Whether we have been there or not, it hardly matters as the venue becomes more than a local landmark in all its detail and authenticity.

Secondly, archetypes also suggest rituals, although perhaps not the kind we associate with Bovenkamp’s Stonehenge, but recurring, nonetheless, through the generations. Anthony Brunelli’s painting is a good example of intergenerational dynamics where a mother, child and grandmother share the outdoors in Cortland, New York.

There’s no doubt that the gallery’s “character” is far-reaching, in its neighborhood location, history and art.


The current show (at 141 Prince Street) will be on view until the end of July. Call 212-677-1340 for details. Hans Van De Bovenkamp’s work will also be at the Bernarducci.Meisel.Gallery at 37 West 57 Street. Call 212-593-3757. [/expand]

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