John Kelsey

The Pea Stakers

Galerie Buchholz
17 E 82nd Street
New York
Upper East Side
Oct 7th 2021 — Nov 13th 2021

Find out more

Upon entering the gallery, the first work is what looks to be a pretty, Monet-esque pastel drawing depicting patches of lavender and lilac with just a hint of pearly pink and sun-blonde yellow. Though the drawing threatens to dissolve fully into abstraction, a series of distinct blotches of what look like stones, or maybe a turtle, suspended upon the surface of that periwinkle water, hold the eye. Then things take a turn for the weird: on the facing wall is a drawing of a white girl in a t-shirt and yoga pants. Then another. Then another. John Kelsey’s “The Pea Stakers”—his third exhibition at Galerie Buchholz—is an offbeat meditation on mediation.

The girl in these drawings is the kind of girl who has both a thigh gap and a bubble butt, the girl who might bully you in school. Across twenty pastel-on-paper works, Kelsey captures Lily Collins in the hit Netflix show Emily in Paris, which follows an American fashionista gallivanting around the City of Lights. Some of the scenes Kelsey selects, often mere moments apart, are delicately detailed—such as one in which Emily holds a pastry in front of the sunny facade of Parisian buildings—while others are stormy, ill-defined: lights streak behind the figure and strangers dissolve into the background, all but outlines. At some point, the sun sets, and Emily is bathed in a dark purplish glow. Her face sports a troubled look as she jogs away from the impending gloom—a spectral take on the corny and distinctly shadowless TV show.

Continue along on the opposite wall and you’ll encounter Kelsey’s “Enigma” series depicting loops and coils of dog turds, set upon delicate pastel and cobblestone background. Continue down the wall and you end up back where you came from, only to see that that first drawing has also gone to shit. On top of the too lovely faux-Impressionist dog-turd drawings and the stalking of Emily’s jog are two drawings of the camera that shot the Netflix show and also, Oculus Quest that simulates the gallery space. —Lisa Yin Zhang

John Kelsey, Emily in Paris 1, 2021. Pastel on paper in artist’s frame, 73 x 53 cm [left]. John Kelsey, Emily in Paris 2, 2021. Pastel on paper in artist’s frame, 73 x 53 cm [right]. Installation view: Galerie Buchholz, New York 2021

  • Through
    Jun 6th

    A traveling exhibition of 69 oil paintings, watercolors and works on paper aims to chart Milton Avery’s trajectory and contextualize his work for a new generation.

  • Through
    May 29th

    Inspired by fractals, Renee Cox’s deity-like collages of Black figures constitute an Afrofuturist creation myth.

  • Through
    Jun 6th

    An economical survey of Jonas Mekas, “The Camera Was Always Running” serves as a touching introduction to the Lithuanian filmmaker and champion of avant-garde cinema.

  • Through
    May 22nd

    Exhibited with melodic sight-lines, Mary Manning’s “Ambient Music” hums with the background noise of the subconscious.

  • Through
    May 28th

    The words masterful and mastery assert themselves the instant one encounters the works in “My Body,” both for Nancy Grossman’s command of a wide range of skills and her active state of dominance, identity and selfhood.

  • Through
    May 23rd

    Full of whimsy and delight, Fernanda Laguna’s work in “The Path of the Heart” cuts an incisive critique of sociopolitical issues in Latin America.

  • Through
    May 28th

    The work in Valentina Vaccarella’s “Bless this Life” rests on a simple irony: monogrammed, embroidered French bridal linens pulled taut across stretcher bars and besmirched by rough images of modern madams.

  • Through
    Jun 6th

    Daniel Lie’s “Unnamed Entities” at the New Museum challenges the antiseptic aim of curation and conservation by imagining a different kind of organic art that needs to be nurtured rather than preserved.

  • Through
    Jan 2nd 2023

    The sonic encounters provoked by Camille Norment’s elaborate acoustic artworks serve as agents for social consciousness.

  • Ongoing

    Day’s End, an elegiac memorial to and stubborn ghost of eras bygone, will also serve as silent witness to the inevitable changes to come.

  • Ongoing

    Dia’s recent acquisition of works by Charles Gaines forms the basis of this survey, which includes the artist’s first forays into mathematics-based grid drawings and other early experiments in medium and form.