Time Out New York / Feb 25–Mar 3, 2010

Banks Violette
GLADSTONE GALLERY

On the evidence of this exhibition—a minor addition to the artist’s oeuvre, despite the works’ towering scale—Banks Violette is moving away from the overt subcultural references on which he built his reputation and toward a more abstracted, formal aesthetic. The shift, while gradual, is not without its dangers.

Violette’s black-metal iconography, always freighted with a certain adolescent machismo, may have been starting to look played out, but his emergent neo-Minimalism, albeit more tasteful, is rather less fun. Absent from this show are the familiar paeans to doomy guitar bands like Sunn O))) and Mayhem, and the hush of the gallery is unbroken by the stomach-churning bass tones that permeated the artist’s 2007 outing at Gladstone’s main space.

Throne (and over and over again) is a giant chandelier made from white fluorescent tubes, their tangle of wiring emerging from a musician’s road case lying nearby. The stark light it casts is consistent with the chilly glamour of Violette’s earlier efforts, but the medium seems a mite pedestrian in the wake of the similarly named No Title (Throne), a model of a burned-out church cast in salt that was shown at the Whitney in 2005. Dan Flavin is all well and good as an inspiration, but he’s no Varg Vikernes (Barzum founder and convicted murderer). The rest of the show, vertiginous arrangements of aluminum scaffolding and glossy black panels, also seems to draw more on canonical art-historical sources than contemporary musical ones, channeling the high Minimalists to well-intentioned but comparatively lifeless ends.

Image: Banks Violette, installation view