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Independent New York 2018 is back this year at Spring Studios. On view through March 11, invited exhibitors are presenting solo, two-person, or historic shows—a set-up more aligned with a museum show or a biennial.
This year, visitors will see work by artists who surfaced from downtown New York in the 1980s and ‘90s, examples of textiles and ceramics, work by emerging talent, outsider art, and presentations of under-recognized artists of the 20th century.
Catching many an eye on the fifth floor is the work of Cary Leibowitz at Invisible Exports. The booth stands out from its corner position, covered in a checkered oilcloth, covered in all new pie chart paintings and a long table full of ceramic works that evoke humor and anxiety—an amusing specialty of Leibowitz’s that we’ve seen in previous shows at museums like The Jewish Museum in San Francisco, and the Hirshhorn Museum, in Washington, D.C.
Today, we met with Leibowitz at Independent to hear more about the works on view. When we entered, he was standing amid his charts in a bright orange sweater. “I’ve re-visited pie charts, which I’ve done before, but not for about 14 or 15 years,” he said. “It was kind of my own assignment in a way.”
Leibowitz’s charts—some divided into slices that say, “I’m hungry,” “I hate u,” “I hate me more,” and “Low self-esteem,” “Excessive self-confidence,”—poke at our inner dialogues and the way we view ourselves internally. Years ago, his first chart was one that read “sad,” “sad,” “sad.” He mentioned that he intends for the viewer to read them from left to right like a sentence, or clockwise, like the pie that read, “never,” “ever,” “ever,” “ever,” “ever.”
Opposite the checker covered wall is a large collection of white tabletop ceramics with hand-written phrases like, “I want a hero…sandwich” on a platter, and “Better luck next time award” on a small horse figurine. In each piece, you recognize Leibowitz’s handwriting. It’s a glance into an artists’ world, where mistakes are crossed out (not erased), and sentences run on with scattered punctuation.
Wandering along the length of the table, we talked about the work and how he wanted something that wasn’t as “flat” as the charts, but still held with creative substance. We asked what type of collector he imagined would buy a work for their home. And before quickly rambling off a handful of artist names, he said, “I think they’d probably be like me. They’d like the other artists that I like.”
At the end of the month, Leibowitz is set to have a show with the gallery, where he will be giving away 1,000 ceramic mugs to those that come. “See you there!” he said.