Reflection and Facsimile at Eric Firestone Gallery in East Hampton

The show questions the role of the facsimile, whether it be painting, sculpture, photograph, or‚ indeed‚ a reflection
Jennifer Landes

East Hampton’s Eric Firestone Gallery is in a reflective mood with its current exhibition, “MirrorMirror,” offering not only show-stopping surfaces of (literal) reflection but also addressing art that mirrors itself in its design, sometimes presenting a complete double of its composition and sometimes a slightly askew version. 

Mr. Firestone has chosen objects, best experienced first-hand, that will remind viewers how much art is now appreciated only through reproduction, on apps such as Instagram. The works displayed here are most fully realized through direct perception. In fact, there is quite a bit going on beneath the surface that might be obscured by their flashy impacts. Raising the value of one-of-a-kind objects, the show questions the role of the facsimile, whether it be painting, sculpture, photograph, or‚ indeed‚ a reflection.

The show gives the gallery a chance to mix familiar faces with new discoveries and blend painted surfaces with sculpture that often mimics traditional painting and vice versa. New to Firestone is Sven Lukin, a Latvian-American artist who melds a Pop Art sensibility into his Minimalist paintings, which also digress into sculpture. Perhaps most readily recognizable from an installation at the Empire State Building, Mr. Lukin has fallen off the radar a bit since his heyday in the 1960s and 1970s. Not all of his work deals with reflection or doubling of a portion or the whole of a composition, but the shaped canvas “Cheek to Cheek” and the three-dimensional painting “Tucson” do, in ways both showy and captivating. His use of color, the flesh tones in “Cheek to Cheek” and desert sand, yellow sun, and sky blue in “Tucson,” hint at naturalism and seem referential, even when the compositions assert their non-objectivism. 

Jen Stark and Miriam Schapiro, who have been on view at Firestone in various shows over the past couple of years, bring it on with examples from Schapiro’s geometric and Mylar series of paintings and examples of Ms. Stark’s cut, mirrored plexiglass pieces.

A particularly striking work in the front room is Sarah Braman’s “In My Mind I’m Gone,” consisting of a sideways file cabinet sandwiched between two blocks of a richly blue-tinted plexiglass. Standing more than six feet high and about five feet wide and 30 inches deep, the object has the presence of a Richard Serra sculpture and the translucence of Jeff Koons’s “Hoovers,” minus the vacuums. By leaving the cabinet to float within a blue firmament, the artist represents the human brain on vacation, in a lush and effective metaphor.

Josh Reames plays with all kinds of art historical themes in his “Reflexive Self/Self Reflexive” diptych, two paintings that replicate themselves as mirror reflections but are intended as individual works. The delicate water drops of Dutch still-life painting mix with trompe l’oeil painted string, the graphic art of commercial illustration, electric lemons, faked impasto paint, and even the genre of self-portraiture, presented in a cheeky way that shakes off the seriousness even as it accumulates within the composition. Look closer and it becomes apparent that not all is exactly mirrored in each canvas. Viewing becomes a perceptual game, a tally of inconsistencies.

At the back wall, Rob Wynne’s “See Foam” of poured and mirrored glass forms a pretty blue and silver archipelago of sorts. 

These are highlights in a room full of interest and wonder, with bronzes by Rogan Gregory, Ryan Metke’s brass wasp nests, Mimi Smith’s thread and tape measure window, Adam Parker Smith’s Surrealism, Sebastian Errazuriz’s mirrored word painting, Letha Wilson’s corner piece, and Slater Bradley’s “Magnetic Wave Shield.”

The show is a reflection not only on reflections, but on visual expression, objecthood, and the infinite variety of ways that artists find to express themselves, while masquerading as a shiny object placed on Newtown Lane to enchant passers-by.

Josh Reames’s “Self Reflexive” and “Reflexive Self” are not quite what they seem.