Camille Henrot at Metro Pictures Gallery

From questioning family relations to questioning authority, Camille Henrot takes over Metro Pictures Gallery with a series of drawings and sculptural works. Her works construct a view of dysfunctions and felt inadequacies inherent to the interpersonal dynamics of any given social group, be it as citizens or family members, pointing out familiar social anxieties that are often brushed off as insignificant “headaches” or “hang-ups” and suggest a connection to more severe psychological and sociopolitical concerns.

Henrot’s new watercolor drawings represent anthropomorphic animal figures to illustrate unjust, unfair and abusive scenes taken from sources ranging from mythology to gossip blogs. The imagery recalls the disturbing actions and remorseless characters familiar in cartoons and comics. Similar to those genres, Henrot employs human-like animals with a sparring and winsome style, which in Henrot’s drawings evokes Modernist painters like Matisse and cartoonists such as Saul Steinberg. In one drawing, a happy couple stands casually as their unborn child bursts from inside the belly of a parent—the figure’s sex left undefined—to reveal it’s grimacing face, while in another, a pelican father stands with a snide expression in his eyes as he eats his young.

The exhibition demonstrates the expansive breadth of her artistic output and far-reaching intellectual pursuits; Henrot absorbs and filters the vast and cacophonous amount of information so readily available today with striking agility and adeptly incorporates select elements into her works. In the exhibition, she includes a sculptural zoetrope, a ceramic sculpture based on pre-Colombian artifacts, and an installation of simplified telephones conceived by the artist to function as uniquely programmed self-help hotlines, which the artist developed in collaboration with writer Jacob Bromberg. Exemplary for the exhibition as a whole, with this work Henrot questions who within a society is an authority, why we accept them as such, and asks why we submit to being held hostage to these systems while waiting for a desired outcome.

The Blogazine – Images courtesy of Metro Pictures Gallery