Time Out New York / May 27–June 10, 2010

Martin Creed

In an oeuvre marked by dogged literality and a fascination with reductive systems—his works are never titled, simply numbered in order of production—British artist Martin Creed exhibits a deadpan wit that draws out the wonder inherent in familiar objects, materials, activities and situations. Notorious at home for winning the 2001 Turner Prize with his Work No. 227, an empty gallery in which the lights periodically flickered on and off, Creed continues to give the Minimalists’ fondness for repetition and clarity a playful spin. The exterior of Gavin Brown’s West Village base has been emblazoned with Creed’s koan, THE WHOLE WORLD + THE WORK = THE WHOLE WORLD, since it first opened; in his current show, the artist occupies both the original interior and part of a sizable new addition.

In the older space, Creed has covered the floor with a colorful veneer of marble—a hundred-odd varieties sourced from around the world and laid down in floorboardlike strips. Such is our accustomedness to the simulated version, it’s hard to believe that this incongruously opulent surface is the real deal, but a close look confirms the switcheroo.

In the gallery’s still-raw extension, long black curtains open and close every few seconds to admit blasts of daylight, while a looped video projection shows a penis oscillating unceasingly between flaccidity and tumescence. It might sound risqué, but the effect is teasing only in its transformation of the process from human to quasimechanical.

Finally, a clutch of small paintings in which differently sized brushstrokes are stacked atop one another cheekily aligns abstract iconography with functional tabulation. In Creed’s hands, the mundane and the marvelous change places with disarming fluidity.

Image: View of "Martin Creed", 2010