May 182024

“Equulus Duo (Two Horseys)”, 1993, Resin, steel, toy horses

“Noven Beastiolae et Octo Massae (Nine Animals and Eight Blocks)”, 1994/99 Resin, stuffed animals, steel, wood, paint

“Sub-Tristis (Somewhat Sad)”, steel, paper towel roll, resin, bees wax, dead fly, 1989

“Notae Litterarum (Foreign Trade)”, 2003, Book, glue, steel

Lucy Puls’s sculptures for Here Everywhere at Nicelle Beauchene encourage the viewer to think about objects in a new way, while also seeing them in the context of their own history. The thrift store toys in her resin sculptures are reminiscent of specimens in a jar or bugs in amber. A roll of paper towels, coated in resin and bees wax, also has a fly on it as if, like the people preserved at Pompeii, an event caused it to be trapped in this moment.  Casts of ships that no longer sail, and books detailing things no longer important, are made and remade into new forms with new codes to decipher. Consumerism, technology, even language itself (her titles are in Latin and English), evolve and change.  What will remain of the present day as we move into the future? Are there clues in what Puls has made using remnants of the past?

From the press release-

Showcasing selected works from 1989 to 2003, Here Everywhere highlights Puls’ unique and overlooked approach to materials and form, surveying her early experiments in making sculpture with found objects, wax, and resin.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Puls turned to making small, resin-cast sculpture with personal effects, found objects, and outmoded household items. At the time, Puls had been making large-scale fiberglass and corrugated metal sculpture; as a reprieve from this labor-intensive work, she began to experiment with leftover waxes and resins on more intimately sized works using items that were on hand in the studio or discovered during thrift shop runs.

Here Everywhere presents selected artworks made across almost fifteen years, loosely arranged into three categories that broadly describe their materials: Small Things, In Resin, and Of Book.

Comprising Small Things is an example of one of Puls’ very first experiments in wax from 1989, Dicis Causa (For the Sake of Appearances). Puls coated a fur hat in a mixture of wax and resin, tipping the form on its edge and affixing insects to its interior surface. Once a status symbol, here the fur hat transforms from a useable object to relic, recognizable, yet made distant through the artist’s material interventions and presentation on a steel shelf.

Works from In Resin include heavily sanded, amberized sculptures arranged throughout the gallery at varying heights atop artist-made shelves and pedestals. Assembled in this series are objects that made their way into thrift stores en masse throughout the 1990s, including once sought-after goods such as the Macintosh 512K and My Little Pony toys. Puls primarily acquired items that had been marked down at resale stores, thus seeking to understand the ways our consumer tendencies pave the way for trend cycles and widespread obsolescence. Children’s toys, in particular, mark this system for the artist; Res Parvus (Little Things) (1991) and Pueri Arma (Child’s Gun) (1991) reveal assembled compositions of the consumer objects that denote childhood—from the innocence and ubiquity of small, plastic figurines to the targeted marketing of BB guns to young boys.

Made a decade later, Imperfectus (Encyclopedia Britannica) (2002) and Involvo (Websters Twentieth Century, Red) (2002) from the series Of Book were created in a time-intensive process of gluing and layering. Unbinding and re-articulating the ideologic form of the encyclopedia, Puls meticulously transformed thousands of loose pages into solid, illegible objects.

The goal across all three series, Puls says, was to achieve in sculpture that which is done with relative ease in painting and drawing: to reduce “representation” to its simplest means while physically separating the object, or artwork, from real-time reality. This is to suggest the idea of a physical object that is both there and not there, devoid of any use-value yet rife with manifold meanings and associations. Through a “strangely alluring sense of loss,” as Glen Helfand described of the work in 2005, Puls turns Dada and Minimalist principles inside out, asking us to more deeply consider the influence of everyday objects and the way they reflect essential ideas of who we are.

This exhibition closes 5/18/24.