Paul Gabrielli is a young deconstructionist sculptor who often works with false trompe l’oeil. His current show, “Generally,” includes a remarkable series of hung sculptures showcasing found, repurposed, and refined objects behind blister packs and mounted on backboards of edited landscape photography, toys lost in the uncanny valley between desire and critique.
I call these pieces toys, but they’re more like tchotchkes. That might be a horrible thing to call a piece of art, but there’s something to be admired about the tchotchke: you own it, but it doesn’t function; you just kind of look at it. It’s not a relationship, like with toys, where you can actually play with them.
Ideal form interests me because it’s an impossibility. I want to bring that form as much as possible out of the mind and into something physical. It was important for me that there was somewhat of a close relationship between image and the actual object. The sculptures work like pictures because they derive from mental images rather than from sculptural forms. I was interested in their dumbness, their obviousness, their thoughtlessness.
The series relates to collectables, too, you know, and the people who don’t unwrap the things that they’re collecting. That’s somehow very perverse, though it also preserves a romantic vision of it the object. (That’s why it’s perverse.)
The works are preoccupied with desire, with desiring things that you already have—even just shitty things, things that you could find anywhere and don’t need to buy: a piece of cloth, or a ripped T-shirt, or a scrap of metal, a piece of wood, a rock.
Everything in the show is sort of a generic object. Every time you choose an object, it’s not just about that specific object; it’s also a kind of negative object, because you’re not choosing every single other object in the world. I feel like I’m turning my back on everything else in the world when I choose one item.
This is something that happened to me when I was a child, with toys. I’ll have this idea of what I want and somehow, somehow think it already exists in the world, and I go searching for it but never find it, and have to make it, in the end. The ideal that I already have in my head, I need to bring it to life somehow.
Paul Gabrielli’s exhibition “Generally” will be open at Invisible-Exports, in New York, through March 27.