The mission statement of WAN*DER*LUST—a collaborative exhibition featuring the talents of New York artists Jody Levy, Yarrow Mazzetti, Artem Mirolevich, Reka Nyari, Peter Ruprecht and Dara Young—called to those clustered by the crowded doorway before they even set foot inside 72 Wooster Street. Scrawled in black paint on a wall just beneath the vaulted ceiling of the filling gallery, the objective of the exhibition introduced itself:
"Wanderlust is about the primal impulse for exploration. The work assembled expresses a freedom pulsing through the body blood.
The collective narrative in this exhibition is informed by the journeys unknown; inspired by the surprise of every given moment. The work is meant to inspire a state of constant flow and transformation. Through these works on paper, canvas, photography, sculpture and furniture we express the human craving for discovery.
Welcome to Wanderlust. We invite you to suspend in your reality."
Though I’ll be hard-pressed to make a connection between a portrait of a naked woman tonguing a flaccid chicken, an intricate illustration of a boat in the middle of a city that looks like it was ripped from one of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s plotlines and a hand-hewn table of Southern Heart Pine and stainless steel, I can see how under the umbrella of “exploration” any and all of these thought-provoking works could somehow wind up in the same room.
With a number of mixed media collages, furniture pieces, photos and installations scattered throughout the gallery, each artist’s contribution and their redefinition of “journeys unknown” was only made stronger when juxtaposed against the work of one of their colleagues. The best example of this could be found on any given wall, with one of the brightest featuring a vibrant, Technicolor portrait of an ornately clad woman sitting in the middle of a smoldering desert scene by Ruprecht (Ascension), a series of monochromatic canvases (Levy) and a number of blackened steel shelves by Mazzetti that showcased these smaller-scale paintings. Steps away, Young’s Diamondback pieces—tables and bookshelves which seemingly bear the skin of a serpent—flanked Nyari’s provocative photography, with the curves of nudes in varying degrees of exposure serving up a sharp contrast to the clean lines of the wooden structures before them.
The works of Mirolevich (the aforementioned magic realist illustrations) and Ruprecht may have adhered to Wan*der*lust’s articulated themes most obviously, in that both put forth vibrant, engaging pieces that clearly played with place and time, but taken into consideration with the drastically different missions and styles present in its collection, it’s clear to see that every artist (and visitor) will walk into Wan*der*lust with a different destination in mind—and an unpredictable journey through these paradoxical artistic pairings as a result.