Nov/Dec 2010 – Vol 5, Issue 2
RAPIDFIRE Reviews – Los Angeles

Seth Kaufman @ Harris Art Gallery
University of La Verne, La Verne California

By Eve Wood

Kaufman’s newest solo exhibition on view at the University of La Verne reads
like a primer for the stunningly dispossessed, the rapturous gesture stripped
bare of all its romance like a man who, unaware that he is naked and
roaming the city streets, comes across a discarded mirror in an alleyway and
finally comes face to face with his truest self, if this is even possible.
Kaufman does not presume self-discovery of course, but puts forth this
complicated supposition in visual terms for us to mull over. Comprised of
several sculptural floor works, a large-scale calligraphic wall piece titled Filial
Rhapsody, and several artist proofs on Polaroid film printed from laser cut
blocks from the “Portrait Impossible” series, Kaufman’s oeuvre is as
unsettling as it is densely electrifying. The gesture of “hiring” his own mother
to write his name in calligraphy on the back wall of the gallery, becomes, not
a self-referential gesture so much as an acknowledgment of the artist’s own
exquisite quirks and idiosyncrasies. We know where he’s come from and his
public admission of this is incredibly powerful. Kaufman’s sculptures however
are riveting in a way that feels primal and absolutely essential. Works like My
Nascent Transgression, combine a variety of materials, creating a bizarrely
seductive totem that is as ludicrous as it is lovely. Other sculptures like the
wondrously cavernous Bread and Such, made from urethane and painted in
putrid shades of pink and green, speak similarly to the idea of beauty as not
only completely subjective, but also non-negotiable. No one does this quite
like Kaufman with his uniquely unquantifiable vision, and he revels, as he
should, in his own complexity, the free-falling associations that build up in
the wake of each new idea.