Ever wonder what it would feel like to have lots of money to back up your impeccable taste? And, perhaps, a living room the size of a rather spacious Lower East Side art gallery? If so, consider “George Nakashima: In Conversation,” on view at UNTITLED through April 20, as a manifestation of that thought experiment. The exhibition pairs furniture made by the late Japanese-American icon (1905-1990) with contemporary sculpture and mixed media paintings, creating a charmingly domestic tableaux, albeit one that is less cluttered than real life. (If this was my house it’d be overrun by teetering novel-towers, empty coffee cups, and four-legged creatures chasing various catnip-delivery devices).
Nakashima’s elegant wood lines–tables, chairs, cabinets–pair quite well with Roger Herman’s ceramic bowls and vases. Matthew Chambers’s paintings–which achieve a texture akin to a golf course or Astroturf by using enamel-based adhesive, acrylic, and nylon flocking–fade into the background a bit, their walnut frames nodding to Nakashima’s material of choice. Likewise Rob Davis’s “paintings” of stretched leather, minimalist compositions that seem to be included mainly for their tonal resonance with the furniture. (This is an unequal “conversation” between Nakashima and the other artists; you know who’s in charge). A large Henry Taylor painting does inject a challenge to Nakashima’s subdued vibe, though, as does a surreal sculpture (composed of cardboard boxes and a disembodied head) that lurks in the corner.