“Matt Gil: Reel to Real”

Pub date June 25, 2008
WriterStacy Martin
SectionArts & CultureSectionVisual Art

REVIEW Remember those jazzy Raymond Scott tunes that accompanied many Depression–era Bugs Bunny cartoons? The rhythmic tinkling of the xylophone, the metronome and piano one-two-ing, while the trumpets and clarinets wah-wahed to our wise-ass rabbit scrambling to free himself from the inner workings of a factory. Those images merged Technicolor fantasy and swinging wackiness to the dumb, impersonal nature of mass production, a cartoonish combo that comes to mind when entering Matt Gil’s exhibition at the Marx and Zavattero Gallery. Residing over the majority of the space is Gil’s kinetic work Conveyor with 24 Sculptures (2007-08), a nonstop catwalk of coffee-tabletop-size ceramic forms parading in a loop for the viewer. The slip-cast, candy-colored glazed shapes are straight out of the space-age Googie design era: it’s the kind of curvy, biomorphic, and geometrically surreal commercial art our parents and grandparents bought at department stores. Gil’s mechanism rotates smoothly, though the forms occasionally wobble. Nothing like wobbling ceramics to make one nervous in a gallery. This carousel, however, leads one to imagine that — like Schroeder’s closet full of Beethoven busts — there might be a replacement or two in the artist’s studio. What transforms Gil’s piece further is that it’s underlit by floodlights, generating Dr. Seuss–like shadows on the walls that grow larger, then smaller. There are other large-scale sculptures — including the blue standing noodle Puzzle Piece and the almost 11-foot-tall black tiki comb Muckracker 1.0. Nevertheless, Conveyor‘s humor and nod to Walter Benjamin’s 1936 essay The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction makes it deservedly the most attention-worthy thing in the room. Along the walls are Gil’s ink and watercolor sketches of would-be monumental forms. These too radiate a giddy simplicity, inviting viewers to appreciate form and space for precisely what they are.

MATT GIL: REEL TO REAL Through July 2. Tues.–Fri., 10:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.; Sat., 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Marx and Zavattero Gallery, 77 Geary, second floor, SF. (415) 627-9111, www.marxzav.com