Just in time for next week's ICFF in New York, Matthew Marks Gallery is showing its second solo exhibition of work by the Seattle-based artist Roy McMakin. The show, "For," continues the artist's exploration into the physical and mental space furniture occupies in our lives. Through the subtle distortion of common objects—a chair, a dresser, a stool—McMakin forces a subconscious shift in perception, or as he described in a NY Times Style Magazine article two years ago, "a displacement of scale that you're not quite aware of."
In this exhibit, a candy green chest of drawers slightly widens near the top, an ordinary red side table ("Untitled," pictured below left) is blown out of proportion, two coffee tables hang on the wall like a Rothko painting. Mixed in with these examples of trompe l'oeil are the investigations into the ordinary. Dark stained objects, old and utterly banal, of the kind found in flea markets around the country, are conjoined with McMakin's characteristic blocky interpretations ("My Slatback Chair With Another One," pictured below right, and "A New Table With a Skinny Table With a Carved Top," pictured above right).
Any of this work could easily be integrated into a contemporary furniture manufacturer's catalog; one readily finds the confluence of ornament and Shaker-style tendencies in the collection of the Dutch company Moooi, for example.
Still, McMakin's latest pieces are not simply mash-ups, nor can they strictly be considered furniture. There's something oddly unsettling about not being able to label these as art, craft, or design. And that's a good thing.